UMASS Recognizes Growing Interdisciplinary Study of Black Germans in Academia

Doctoral student Kevina King (far left) on a panel this weekend with Jemele Watkins (far right) at the third Black German Heritage & Research Association International Conference held at Amherst College.

Doctoral student Kevina King (far left) on a panel this weekend with Jemele Watkins (far right) at the third Black German Heritage & Research Association International Conference held at Amherst College.

AMHERST, Mass.—In an effort to recognize a relatively young academic discipline that many in the academy have never heard of before, nearly a hundred students and scholars gathered at Amherst College over the weekend to discuss their research and ideas for how to grow Black German Studies.

This marks the third year that the Black German Heritage & Research Association sponsored the international conference, which highlighted a variety of interdisciplinary topics ranging from Black Germans during the Third Reich to their ongoing presence in German theater.

Like African American, Women and Queer studies, Black German Studies has an admitted social justice focus, says Dr. Sara Lennox, a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an early founder of the Black German Studies movement in the U.S. “We’ve made the field legitimate. You can now do this work and get tenure,” says Lennox, who was chiefly responsible for jumpstarting the Black German Studies concentration at UMASS Amherst. “It’s kind of a burgeoning field and movement. The other thing that’s really cool is there is a pretty strong connection between activism and scholarship and a really strong connection with the experimental … Black Germans talking about their stories.”

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EDITOR WHO GREW UP BLACK IN NAZI GERMANY DIES

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Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi, Sr.

MIAMI (AP) — Hans Massaquoi, a former managing editor of Ebony magazine who wrote a distinctive memoir about his unusual childhood growing up black in Nazi Germany, has died. He was 87. His son said Massaquoi died Saturday, on his 87th birthday, in Jacksonville. He had been hospitalized over the Christmas holidays. “He had quite a journey in life,” said Hans J. Massaquoi, Jr., of Detroit. “Many have read his books and know what he endured. But most don’t know that he was a good, kind, loving, fun-loving, fair, honest, generous, hard-working and open-minded man. He respected others and commanded respect himself. He was dignified and trustworthy

. We will miss him forever and try to live by his example.” In an interview in 2000, the elder Massaquoi told The Associated Press that he credited the late Alex Haley, author of “Roots,” with convincing him to share his experience of being “both an insider in Nazi Germany and, paradoxically, an endangered outsider.” His autobiography, “Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany,” was published in the U.S. in 1999 and a German translation was also published. Massaquoi’s mother was a German nurse and his father was the son of a Liberian diplomat. He grew up in working class neighborhoods of the port city of Hamburg.

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Abschied von Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi

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Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi, Sr.

Der in Hamburg geborene Autor des Bestsellers “Neger, Neger, Schornsteinfeger” ist kurz vor seinem 87. Geburtstag in Florida gestorben.Hamburg. Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi, in Hamburg geborener amerikanischer Journalist und Buchautor, ist in Florida gestorben. Das erfuhr das Abendblatt von dessen Freund Ralph Giordano. Massaquoi, schwer erkrankt, hätte am 19. Januar seinen 87. Geburtstag feiern können.

Er, der Deutschland 1948 verlassen hatte, wurde der deutschen Öffentlichkeit 1999 bekannt, als er den ersten Band seiner Lebenserinnerungen veröffentlichte, die zum Bestseller wurden: “Neger, Neger, Schornsteinfeger” heißt das Buch nach den Spottrufen, mit denen die hellhäutigen Kinder den dunkelhäutigen Sohn eines liberianischen Diplomatensprosses und einer Hamburger Krankenschwester hänselten. Sein Großvater war liberianischer Generalkonsul in Hamburg, seinen Vater hat er nie kennengelernt.

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