Deep in Gladfelter Hall is one of the greatest minds to ever grace African-American thought. Temple Graduate Professor of African-American Studies Molefi Kete Asante, Ph.D. is considered one of the most prolific and dominant figures in the field of African-American Studies. In 1984, Asante, who likes to maintain a low profile, came to Temple, where he created the first Ph.D. program in African-American Studies.
Unbeknownst to much of Temple’s population, Asante developed the theory of Afrocentricity, and has studied all over the world examining and shaping this theory. He gained notoriety with his book “Afrocentricity: A Theory of Social Change,” published in 1980. In this book, he tackled the concept of turmoil in the African-American society. When developing his theory he searched to understand how African-American people as a whole could be so detrimental to themselves and each other.
He concluded, “We as African-Americans are not rooted in our own culture and history, which is why we are detrimental to ourselves and the community. When I took a trip to Ghana, the Africans there lived peacefully together because they knew who they were as a people. In order to move forward we must regain our lost identity.”
Asante studied great African-Americans such as Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman and Malcolm X to gain a better understanding of the past, which he cites as a map to the future. He looks upon the African-American youth with great optimism, recognizing that despite setbacks, the African-American culture still moves forward with great strides.
Asante was a communications major as an undergraduate student at Oklahoma Christian College, after which he received a scholarship to study for his Masters at Pepperdine University. It was when he received a teaching assistantship at UCLA that he took an interest in African-American studies. There he created their first African-American Studies department and was asked to be its first director.
Since then he has published 51 scholarly books, more than any contemporary African-American author. He is a sough after speaker, both nationally and internationally, and has spoken at over 100 colleges and universities. In his most recent project, Asante makes an attempt to appeal to popular culture through a novel, Scattered to the Wind, which shows that Afrocentricity can be used for aesthetic advancement. He is the first person who has consciously looked to write an Afrocentric novel.
On his key to his success Asante said, “My studies have taken me to another level of who we are as an African-American people. I’m diligent; I do my work, and I do it well.”