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Contributions of the African Diaspora highlighted during event to mark Black History Month at United Nations Headquarters

The contributions of people of African descent was the subject of a discussion and screening of the film Familiar Faces/Unexpected Places--A Global African Diaspora, which took place on Thursday, 8 February 2018, at United Nations Headquarters in New York, to mark Black History Month. The event was organized by the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme, and the International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024. (Watch the Discussion.)

Opening the event was Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Alison Smale, who said that the Department of Public Information was committed to supporting the International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015-2024. She added, "through the Remember Slavery Programme, we are focused on celebrating the gains of people of African descent from slavery to the present, while acknowledging the present challenges on their path towards freedom and equality--our common path."

Also participating in the opening panel was H.E. Mr. Mauro Viera, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations, who underscored the contribution of people of African descent in his country. "Half of Brazil's 210 million people are of African descent, he told participants. "Brazil is a nation of deep-rooted liberties that is built on a foundation of diversity from which we draw strength as a nation."

The documentary film, produced by Dr. Sheila Walker, takes us on a journey from America to Turkey, India and other places and explores the rich cultures and many contributions of African descendants. Themes such as the continuity of African culture, understanding the making of the African global diaspora, racial oppression and the progress African descendants have made in recent years were discussed in a stimulating conversation following the screening.

"If we don't know about the contributions of African descendants in the creation of all of the Americas, we don't know much about the Americas or the Atlantic world. And if we don't know about the Atlantic world, then we don't know much about human beings, " said Dr. Walker, while introducing her film. "We need to know about all people in the world -- that's what is rich. The cultural meeting of all people in the world makes us all fascinating."

Participating in the discussion were Board Member of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History Ms. Gloria Browne Marshall, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Dean and Professor of African Diaspora History Omar Ali, and University of Chicago South Asian Languages and Civilizations Department Scholar Jazmin Graves. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Ramu Damodaran, Chief of the United Nations Academic Impact.

Panellists Omar Ali, Professor of Global and Comparative African Diaspora History at the University of North Carolina and Sheila S. Walker PhD: Filmmaker, Cultural Anthropologist and Executive Director of Afrodiaspora, Inc.

Panellists Omar Ali, Professor of Global and Comparative African Diaspora History at
the University of North Carolina and Sheila S. Walker PhD: Filmmaker, Cultural
Anthropologist and Executive Director of Afrodiaspora, Inc. Photo: DPI/Catharine Smith

A participant poses a question

A participant poses a question. Photo: DPI/Catharine Smith


Participants speak with panellists following the discussion

Participants speak with panellists following the discussion. Photo: DPI/Catharine Smith

Panellists

Panellists (from L-R): Moderator Ramu Damodaran, Deputy Director, Partnerships &
Public Engagement, United Nations Department of Public Information; Jazmin Graves:
South Asian Languages and Civilizations Department at the University of Chicago;
Omar Ali: Professor of Global and Comparative African Diaspora History at the
University of North Carolina; Sheila S. Walker PhD: Filmmaker, Cultural Anthropologist
and Executive Director of Afrodiaspora, Inc; Gloria Browne-Marshall: Executive Council
Member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History;
Alison Smale: United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications;
H.E. Ambassador Mauro Vieira: Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN.

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