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Station 1 - The Beginning: Africa and the Origins of Humankind

Saturday, February 3, 2018 | 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Herskovits Library of African Studies, Northwestern University
1970 Campus Drive, Evanston, Illinois | 847.467.3084


  • Esmeralda KaleGeorge & Mary LeCron Foster Curator, Herskovits Library of African Studies, Northwestern University
  • Florence Mugambi, African Studies Librarian, Herskovits Library of African Studies, Northwestern University
  • Melanie Zack, Research Fellow, Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College, Chicago; co-author, The Transformation of Black Music (2017)


At the Herskovits Library we have assembled an extensive display of published material about 1) Africa as the cradleland of earliest humans; 2) the Middle Passage including: slavery and justifications for it (religious, economic, etc), human cargo ships, countries involved, and routes; 3) African influences on the new world in such sectors as music, agriculture (e.g. rice farming in the Carolinas), language (Gullah of the Carolinas), food, and religions.  

Additionally, through an interactive workshop with singing and dancing, Melanie Zeck will provide an overview to the trans-Atlantic migration of African musical styles, traditions, and practices. Experience different musical examples and learn about their historical, cultural, and social contexts. Dress casually and be prepared to have fun!

Participants will experience:

  • Humankind history dating to as far back as Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania to the 21st century
  • The realities of African indigenous religious traditions, traditions that have thrived for centuries before European colonialism
  • Central African cosmologies which tend to have held the belief that secular structures were deeply connected to religious ideas. Political, social, economic and cultural realities/ideas were all connected to explanations of divine cosmology (for instance, explanations of the universe or the worlds of the living and the dead)
  • Africans in Islamic lands. Millions of Africans entered Islamic lands, making important contributions to great civilizations (everywhere ranging from the heartlands of the Islamic faith to Muslim Spain)
  • A participatory presentation connecting African American music to its African roots
  • African ephemera, artifacts, posters, photographs, maps
  • African themed young readers resources
February 3, 2018

In recognition of the 2018 Black History Month, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Northwestern University, and numerous Evanston churches and organizations have worked in collaboration to create this Evanston community project. Using the Stations of the Cross to situate the history of Black Americans, participants will experience Black history from the origins of humankind in Africa to as recent as NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Through various productions and representations such as historical texts, art, photographs, artifacts, teaching, preaching, bible study, and scripture, we will explore and discuss key historical moments and movements in Black lives.

Sponsored by the Center for the Church and the Black Experience, this project aims to:

  • Find, develop, and deepen leaders
  • Educate and reeducate the Evanston community, particularly the youth, on Black history
  • Build productive relationships and collective power between Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Northwestern University, Evanston churches, and councils interested in the thriving of black people