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Africana Studies Program

Events & Conferences

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African American Recognition Ceremony

Alhaji Papa Susso and his "Manding Music and Dance Society" at Fresno State with links to audio tapes

African American Future Teacher Fair

African American Recognition Ceremony

The African American Recognition Ceremony conducted annually for graduating African American Students carries with it a proud heritage spanning more than 20 years. The first event, hosted in 1984, set the tone for this prestigious event that is attended by over 1,800 each year. This “rite of passage” has become a powerful celebration of achievements by African American students and their families. It also serves as an inspirational tool for students still laboring toward fulfilling their degree requirements. Often the Recognition Ceremony Committee is approached by continuing and potential students who share their excitement about one day being included in this celebration.

This annual event is hosted by the Fresno State Cross Cultural and Gender Center. The Annual African American Recognition Ceremony takes place in May each year. Contact John Hunt at (559) 278-4435 or email for more information. 

***To register for this years Recognition Ceremony go to

Alhaji Papa Susso and his "Manding Music and Dance Society" at Fresno State

More photos on the Photo Gallery page

Alhaji Papa SussoAs part of the 2003 Black History Month Cerebrations at Fresno State, The Ethnic Studies Program co-sponsored (with the University Lecture Series) an electrifying performance of Alhaji Papa Susso and his Manding Music and Dance Society at the Satellite Student Union on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2003. The group was in Fresno for three days during which time it conducted workshops and lectures in classes at Fresno State, Fresno City College, Garfield Elementary School, Clovis, Lincoln Elementary School, Fresno, Selma Elementary, Selma. The group was also the special guest at the Poetry Jam, Coffee House and Pub, Fresno State.

Papa Susso hails from a long line of Griots (traditional oral historians) and has been playing the Kora since he was five years old. The Kora was invented by the "Susso" family of the Mandinka ethnic group. It is a 21-stringed harp-lute unique to the western- most part of Africa and is meant to be played only by the Jali (professional musicians, praise singers and oral historians), who were traditionally attached to the royal courts. Their duties included recounting ethnic history and genealogy, composing commemorative songs and performing at important social events. It is with the help of the "Susso" family that Alex Hailey was successful in tracing his family's ROOTS to The Gambia.

After obtaining a bachelor of arts degree in business administration, and holding several civil government positions as a senior Accountant, Papa formed his own cultural organization: The Manding Music and Dance Limited, a school dedicated to keeping African culture alive.

Papa Susso has performed for several heads of state and governments and the United Nations Organization. He was appointed Chief Kora Player of The Gambia national Cultural Troup. He has also performed with several symphony orchestras and is a premier performer in the "American Classic African Portraits" by Hannibal Peterson. In 1991 he was appointed Regent’s Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

note icon Listen to Papa Susso's Music

Click here to download Real One Player

Traditional Kora Music from Gambia

Kelepha Ba
Jawra Ya
Hydera Sirifo

A Gathering of Elders: Al-Haji Papa Susso

Steal Away
Tabara (with Bishop Patrick & Rev. Michelle Lawyer)
Kunkuba (with Bishop Patrick & Rev. Michelle Lawyer)
Kaira (with Bishop Patrick & Rev. Michelle Lawyer)
Mamya (with Bishop Patrick & Rev. Michelle Lawyer)
Amazing Grace

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African American Future Teacher Fair

In an effort to attract and recruit African American students to California State University, Fresno, the School of Education and Human Development Education Equity Committee has been hosting the Annual African American Future Teacher Fair. This event is coordinated by the Office of University Outreach Services. The focus of the conference is to:

  • interact with educational administrators and school counselors;
  • encourage participants to begin the process of setting educational goals;
  • allow students to explore how an education provides tools for the future; provide exposure to California State University, Fresno; and
  • encourage students to pursue careers in education

The planning committee invites area high school teachers and counselors to identify and bring aspiring young people to participate in the program at no cost. Students have the opportunity to meet Fresno State students and staff during the day, which gives them a chance to ask questions and explore their educational goals. This conference was held on Tuesday, March 18, 2003.

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