The sounds and teachings of African culture filled the air as the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC) hosted their 31st annual Ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) Studies Conference. This year the event was held from March 13 – 16 at Essex County College in Newark, N.J.
The conference brings together scholars, artists and cultural workers to share information and knowledge about the wisdom of our African ancestors. The conference centers on promoting African values and principles of living, including loving one another, respecting one another, and always striving for good character and excellence. Whether you have a Ph.D.in Africana studies or are just interested in ancient African culture, this conference brings all attendees together as a family. "Even if someone is coming for the first time, they can get a sense of family and camaraderie," Riba Kelsey-Harris, the president of the ASCAC Southern region, said. "It's really like a family reunion."
Every morning of the conference, that started March 13 and went through the weekend, a libation was poured, with a calling of our ancestors to show appreciation for all they have done, followed by the singing of the Black national anthem. Afterwards, attendees were able to choose from a variety of different lectures and workshops. Each year, more students become involved and students from Howard University even led some of the workshops.
"There is a value in putting elders with young people," said Dr. Greg Carr, the International First Vice President of ASCAC and head of the Africana Studies Department at Howard University. "The important thing is for young people to see their elders, know they exist and just in a day or two say 'wow, these are some of the most amazing people I've ever met.'"
The mission of the conference and the ASCAC is for African peoples to educate other African peoples about their culture. The workshops teach about medical practices, languages, spirituality and more. The conference was also full of vendors selling traditional African clothing and jewelry, as well as many books on ancient African culture.
"This organization is for African people," said Dr. Mario Beatty, the international president of ASCAC and professor at Howard University. "It's a sacred place for us to discuss who we are, to discuss what we want in the world and to discuss how we want to teach our children."
Along with the international conference, ASCAC has other events and study groups in their local regions. Their official mission is to provide a body of knowledge that continuously contributes to the rescue, reconstruction, and restoration of African history and culture. "There's no criteria for joining ASCAC, other than showing that love," said Carr."If you love Black people and you want to work and build something, come on in."
Plans for ASCAC include an oral history project and a journal, which will document ASCAC's history and the wealth of information that is within the organization. Next year's conference will be in Seattle, Wash. For more information about ASCAC, visit ascac.squarespace.com.