Africana Muslims to be focus of Phi Beta Kappa lecture

Angelica Cataldo, Entertainment Reporter

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Mansa Bilal Mark King is an associate professor of Sociology at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He will be lecturing on "how we impoverish liberal arts education by marginalizing Africana Muslims" in the Doudna Lecture Hall at 5p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15.

Courtesy of The Center for the H
Mansa Bilal Mark King is an associate professor of Sociology at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He will be lecturing on “how we impoverish liberal arts education by marginalizing Africana Muslims” in the Doudna Lecture Hall at 5p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15.

This year, with the help of donations from Phi Beta Kappa and other contributors, the Center for the Humanities will present their 26th annual fall lecture 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15 in the Doudna Lecture Hall.

The installment in the series is “The Invisible Matter,” which will be led by Mansa Bilal Mark King, a sociology professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He will discuss his thoughts and studies on the marginalization of Africana Muslims in liberal arts education.

Suzie Park, English professor and president of the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of East Central Illinois Suzie Park, and C.C. Wharram, English professor and director of the Center for the Humanities, worked on bringing King to Eastern back in the spring and have now been able to procure the proper funding for the lecture. It was originally supposed to be held on Sept. 8, but due to financial complications, it was moved to Sept. 15.

“People should expect a highly informative and provocative exploration of topics that we wouldn’t necessarily think of together, like hip-hop and Islamic culture,” Park said.

The Center for the Humanities, partnering with Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, aims to bring in lectures and events that focus on current events and issues. Last year they brought in a speaker who discussed the representation of people with disabilities in entertainment and in 2014 they brought in someone to discuss the Ebola outbreak.

Park said King is also leading a study abroad course that follows the migration of Islamic culture all over the world, starting in Senegal and ending in New York City. During the lecture, King will be explaining that course, talking about his personal experiences as a practicing Muslim himself and detailing the Africana Muslim contribution to liberal arts, both historical and contemporary.

“I do really hope people see the entire wealth of knowledge of the Africana Muslim culture that we don’t know or don’t have a lot of access to,” Wharram said.

The philosophy of Phi Beta Kappa is “The love of learning is the guide of life.” It is the nation’s oldest academic honors society and was established in 1776. According to Park, Phi Beta Kappa believes in free inquiry and are known defenders of the liberal arts and sciences. This is why the honor society and The Center for the Humanities presents informational lectures at Eastern every year.

Park originally met King in Colorado at the Phi Beta Kappa Triennial Council, which only meets every three years. There, Park believed that King would be a captivating and exciting speaker and wanted to bring him to Eastern.

“He is very fun and people should expect him to stimulate the mind and be exciting,” Park said. “He is seriously a kick-ass speaker.”

Angelica Cataldo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]