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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Nationally acclaimed black writer and speaker headlines Pan African Conference

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson will be the keynote speaker at the 36th annual Pan African Student Leadership Conference Feb. 22-25.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release [2-15-12]

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, two-time NAACP image award winner who was named one of the 100 most influential black Americans by Ebony magazine, will be the keynote speaker at the 36th annual Pan African Student Leadership Conference Feb. 22-25 on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato. The theme for this year’s conference is: “Recognizing and Celebrating Pan Africans in the Global Society.”

Dyson, professor of Sociology at Georgetown University and author of 16 books including Why I love Black Women, Is Bill Cosby Right? and Come Hell or High Water, Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, will speak Friday Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom. The event is open to the public and all are invited to attend.

Dr. Michael Fagin, founder and coordinator of the long-running conference, said Dyson is a dynamic speaker who has a determination to change the stark view of Black America.

The conference, which attracts students, faculty and community leaders from across the nation, opens with a focus on New Sub-Saharan African immigrants. Other featured speakers include Kimmie Weeks, a native of Liberia and Executive Director of Youth Action International, at 7 p.m. Feb. 23, and Judge LaJune Thomas Lange (retired), President of the International Leadership Institute, who will provide the keynote address at the Feb. 24th noon lunch session, followed by the Honorable Bobby Joe Champion, Minnesota State Senator. Mahmoud El-Kati, professor emeritus at Macalester College, who Dr. Fagin credits as his inspiration to establish the Dr. Michael T. Fagin Pan African Student Leadership Conference, will provide the opening address at the Feb. 23rd noon session. The four-day event is capped by a Mr. and Ms. Pan African talent ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 25. Another key segment is a national poster competition for students attending the conference.

The Pan African Conference’s main goal is to provide an opportunity for students, professionals and others to discuss issues that affect African people on the local, national, and international level. Sessions on contemporary issues, racism, and history, as well as segments for enhancing appreciation of the culture and reducing isolation are on the schedule. This year’s conference will also bring together national and international delegates representing the diaspora of African peoples.

Fagin founded the conference in 1977 after traveling to West Africa with a few students, and Mahmoud El-Kati, a recurring guest speaker, inspired Dr. Fagin to institutionalize the conference and celebrate Africa and its culture. Fagin said the conference is a “learning experience for all of our delegates to gain appreciation of the spread of African people across the world to civilizations across the globe.”

For more information contact Fagin at 507-389-1126 or email him at

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,649 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 32 state institutions.

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