The Liberal Arts Department at the Alexandria Campus hosted the first lecture of its Black History Lecture Series on February 14 in the Bisdorf Building. The event was open to NOVA students, faculty and staff. NOVA invited Dr. C. R. Gibbs to speak on the subject “Black Inventors: From Africa to America.”
The lecture drew a group of about 15 students, faculty and staff who were interested in different inventions in American history that were created or influenced by people of African descent. During the lecture Gibbs discussed black inventors who are not always found in the history books including Garrett A. Morgan, Madame C. J. Walker, Miriam E. Benjamin and Frederick M. Jones.
Gibbs used the example of a banjo to express how a number of instruments, tools and inventions were created or originated in Africa and brought to America.
“Things are lost when you don’t hold on to your heritage and you don’t know your history,” Gibbs said. “Joel Walker Sweeney made the banjo popular after a slave taught him about a similar instrument created in West Africa. This is an example of how African creations can become so deeply embedded in American culture that its origins are forgotten.”
This is the third year of the Black History Lecture Series at the Alexandria Campus. Executive Assistant Sah Ara Sanu-t organized the lecture series stating that it was important to organize a discussion that caters to a new generation of African youth and empower and unite African men and women.
“This series caters to a new generation of African youth and African Consciousness, one that is motivated by historical accounts which demonstrate self-determined African identity, empowerment and autonomy,” Sanu-t said. “The discussion is another way to unify all African people, and I wanted to have guest speakers present topics beyond the civil rights era, and more on the little known facts on African men and women who made movement contributions to civilization.”
Gibbs is the author of six books and a frequent contributor to Port of Harlem Magazine. Gibbs also speaks on a number of historical topics as a national and international lecturer. On February 21, speakers Lisa Johnson and Kenneth Worles will tackle the topics “Black Financial Literacy” and “Planning for Success.”
Speaker Nefta Freeman will discuss “Fidel’s Impact on the Black World” on February 23, and Gibbs will return on February 28 to speak on the subject “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: Great Slave Revolts.” All lectures begin at 2:00 p.m. and take place in Bisdorf Building, Room 196. The lecture series is sponsored by Student Life and hosted by the Black Business Block.