Pan-African Studies conference explores world peace

Kara Taylor

The audience closed their eyes and hummed to the song “Imagine”by John Lennon as Horace Campbell asked them all to imagine a war-free world full of peace and equality.

“How can we make the world one in the 21st century?” said Campbell, a professor of Pan-African studies and political science at Syracuse University. “My presentation is premised on the idea that the most revolutionary question in the 21st century is how will we become humans.”

Campbell spoke to a crowd of about 70 people composed of faculty, administrators and students as the keynote speaker at the second bi-annual Pan-African Studies Department conference in Oscar Ritchie Hall.

The conference, titled “Africa and the Global Atlantic World Conference,”  was a two-day program  that featured seminars on a variety of topics including gender roles, cultural identity and literature. Lectures and discussions at the event included “(De)Constructing Femininity and Masculinity”, “Women and Power across Borders”, and “Passing, Black Bodies and Race in Literature and Culture.”

During his presentation, Campbell played a clip of President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address in January 2003. He said the culture of war and those who encourage violence represent themselves as peacemakers. Campbell said the difficulty was not that Bush represented himself as a peacemaker, but the issue lied in his international relations.

“We need a more rigorous concept of peace, not only based on the absence of war, but based on celebration of life for all human beings,” he said. “You cannot have peace without the rights of women, youth, health and same gender loving persons.”

Campbell asked how people become human if they continue to depend on the dehumanization of the majority of citizens on planet earth.

As a published author, Campbell  has received accolades from his most famous book “Rasta and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney”, which is now being translated to French in an eighth edition. His most recent book is “An Africanism, Pan Africanists and African Liberation in the 21st century”.

Cinnamon Small, outreach program officer in the Pan-African studies department, was one of the coordinators of the conference and stressed the importance of being able to impact others with your knowledge. Small said people need to seek truth in stated information they are given and have the ability to redefine how they look at peace and information.

“I hope the students in attendance learned new ways of viewing their experiences and distribute the information they learned to their friends and families,” Small said.

Campbell concluded his presentation with his definition of peace.

“I believe peace is the promotion of respect for human rights, every nation and human being has the right to peace,” he said.

At the end of the presentation, Campbell played One Love by Bob Marley and insisted the audience sing as one to promote a feeling of peace.

Britney Wright, a sophomore exercise science major, was enlightened by Campbell’s approach to world peace.

“Professor Campbell’s speech gave me a better idea of how we can change the world and America for the better in terms of peace,” said Wright. “I definitely agree with his definition of peace.”

Babacar Mbaye, associate professor of English in the Pan-African Studies department, said he wants students to gain the knowledge on the contributions of people from African descent.

“I always say Pan-African studies is world studies, and I believe students of all backgrounds can benefit from the information in this department,” he said.

Contact Kara Taylor at [email protected].