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An African American activist and author was the topic of discussion Tuesday during the April Social Justice Salon in Downing Student Union.

Andrew Rosa, an associate professor of African American studies, discussed his study of St. Clair Drake, an African-American activist and author who established some of the first African Studies programs in universities.

According to Rosa, Drake placed his efforts in the Pan African project, which believed in the independence of African nations, the education of African students, the development of African studies at Roosevelt University and social justice of all people of African descent.

Drake was an open advocate for African self-determination, racial justice and Pan Africanism.

Rosa first learned about Drake as a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts.

“My mentor in graduate school was a student of Drake’s at Roosevelt University back in the early 60’s,” Rosa said.

Rosa said his mentor, John Bracey, is a major figure in African American studies. Bracey was involved in the student non-violent coordinating committee coming out of the civil rights movement.

“[Bracey] fell under the influence of Drake in Chicago and so he wanted to see this project become a reality, so that’s what got me started on it,” Rosa said.

Rosa, who is finishing a book on Drake, said he believes students should learn about Drake because it reminds them that what they study in the university has real world applications in terms of affecting change.

Bowling Green student Ashley Edwards is obtaining her masters from WKU and finds social justice movements especially interesting. She said she loves to learn anything rooted in social justice that can help her in her future.

“Coming to this lecture today really gave me a different perspective that maybe I hadn’t had before,” she said. “I had never heard of St. Clair Drake, so I really learned some new stuff and I can tie that in to what I’m learning and hopefully get something out of it.”

News Reporter Autumn Alexander can be reached at 270-745-6011 or autumn.alexander639@topper.wku.edu.