May 19, 2022
Abdul Alkalimat is a founder of the field of Black Studies and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. A lifelong scholar-activist with a PhD from the University of Chicago, he has lectured, taught and directed academic programs across the US, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and China. His activism extends from having been chair of the Chicago chapter of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s, to a co-founder of the Black Radical Congress in 1998.
This conversation is framed around his recent book The History of Black Studies. Alkalimat shares some of his background, and his experiences with the struggles for Black Studies in the 1960’s. We also talk about his role in the founding of the Institute of the Black World.
In discussing Black Studies, we ask Dr. Alkalimat about the ideological strains that make it up, the origins of it as an academic discipline, and what Black Studies looked like before it was allowed into the academy and how it continues to look outside of the academy.
A focus in this conversation is a discussion about social movements and the type of knowledge that is examined within them and the type of knowledge that is produced by them. Within this, we get into discussion about the role of cadre development and mass political education in social movements, and the role that Alkalimat thinks Black Studies can and should still play for these struggles.
We close with some discussion of the work Dr. Alkalimat is currently doing with the Southern Workers Assembly to organize the South.
In the show notes, we’ll include links to several of the resources Abdul Alkalimat talks about in the episode.
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Now here is our conversation with Abdul Alkalimat on The History of Black Studies.