Temple University will begin construction of the Center for Anti-Racism in Anderson Hall this semester, as part of the university’s $1 million anti-racist initative. Once completed around the middle of Spring 2022, it will be open to all Temple students.
Design teams met with representatives of the Africology and African American studies department during the past few months to refine the design of the center. The consultants for this project, Ian Smith Design Group and Pride Enterprises, are both owned by people from marginalized communities, said Martin Droz, associate vice president of Temple’s Project Delivery Group.
Molefi Kete Asante, professor and chair of the Africology and African American studies department, appointed Timothy Welbeck, an African American studies professor, as the director of the center on Aug. 6 and announced his hiring in a department newsletter this week, after consulting with other faculty and administrative members.
“He has always argued the position of justice, and he’s always been considered an activist in the field of civil rights,” Asante said.
Welbeck hopes the center will dissect systemic racism to better understand how racism affects our society, he said.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I’m also grateful that Temple has embarked upon this initiative, and I’m also grateful for the leadership of my department and helping to push this initiative forward,” Welbeck said.
Welbeck is an alumnus of Morehouse College and Villanova University’s Charles Widger School of Law and has been a professor at Temple for nearly ten years, Asante said.
The center will also be available to students and faculty in local Philadelphia universities like St. Joseph’s, La Salle, Thomas Jefferson, Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania, Asante said. Other surrounding universities, like Villanova and West Chester University will also have access.
The center will be located on the terrace of Anderson Hall, which was completed in December 2020, Droz said.
The center will focus on researching structural and systemic racism and violence and attempting to end racial hierarchy, Asante said.
“This is not just a Black center or a center simply dealing with one particular issue,” Asante said. “It is, of course, a center that will have a multiracial clientele and a multicultural pintail, and I think that that is essentially what we were hoping for.”
The center will be able to host a diverse array of events and programs, said Marguerite Anglin, associate director of architecture for the Project Delivery Group.
Students and professors in the political science, psychology, sociology, urban education departments can lead informational workshops and promote real social and cultural changes in the center, Asante said.
Temple’s Center for Anti-Racism will be an excellent place to teach, study and spread awareness about racial injustices to students and faculty, Asante added.
Asante was inspired to create the Center for Anti-Racism after the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and by the book, “How to be an Anti-Racist,” written by former Temple doctoral candidate, Ibram X. Kendi.
“Kendi was one of the first people to create a sense for anti-racist research in our Temple community,” Asante said. “It was only necessary.”
Kendi was granted $10 million by a private source to create the premiere Center for Anti-Racism Research at Boston University, which also inspired Asante’s idea for Temple’s new center, Asante said.
Temple’s Board of Trustees approved $3.5 million in March 2021 for the construction of the center and improvements to the Africology and African American studies department’s space on the sixth and eighth floors of Gladfelter Hall, The Temple News reported.
“It’s going to be really important to Temple and the community,” Anglin said.