The United States Consulate General in Lagos in collaboration with the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS) of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) on Tuesday commenced a two-week ceremony to celebrate black achievements and excellence.
In commemoration of the 2019 Black History Month, they also expressed their displeasure to inhumanity and injustice witnessed in some parts of the world.
The annual global observance which originated from the US will feature cultural dance, film shows, art exhibition, panel discussions and a secondary school debate competition on the topic “Can Racism ever be Eliminated?” at the institution, in Lagos.
Delivering his keynote remarks with the title “From 1619 to 2019: Why We Must Continue to Highlight Black Excellence,” the Public Affairs Officer, United States Consulate-General, Lagos, Russell Brooks, expressed the need to celebrate Black History to an audience that included Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development Services, UNILAG, Prof. Folashade Ogunshola; the Director, IADS, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye; students, amongst others.
He said there are still specific forms of inhumanity and injustice and as such there is need to tell the peoples stories accurately and with pride.
According to him, “The misguided notions that were used to defend slavery or racial discrimination warped the minds of some black Americans, who actually accepted these notions out of their own ignorance.
“If black Americans were to be able to throw off the psychological shackles that imprisoned them, they would have to know much more about their actual history.
“On the African continent, I am sure you take great pride in the accomplishments of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Kofi Annan and many others.
“Nevertheless, the need to tell our stories accurately and with pride is just as important today as it ever was. There are still doubters among us, there are haters, and there is the need to instil a sense of pride in our children and grandchildren. That need will never cease.”
Encouraging Nigerian youths to read about the intellectual arguments used to justify slavery and colonialism, Brooks reiterated the words of Ida Wells, a famous African-American female journalist and civil rights activist, which is, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
He said, “To correct the historical wrong of neglecting or diminishing the contributions of the black race to humanity, I believe we will always need to turn the light of truth on falsehoods and ignorance by passing down the stories of our excellence, Black Excellence.”