The Africa-America Institute (AAI) is celebrating its milestone 70th anniversary. The U.S.-based organization connects Africa to America through education, training, and dialogue.
In celebration of the seven-decade milestone, AAI’s annual gala will feature a Presidential Fireside Chat with H.E. Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia and AAI alumnus, and H.E. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana. Their conversation will center around the importance of education and scholarship across Africa.
The evening will also celebrate this year’s honorees, which include trailblazing executive and author Debra Lee, who will receive the Business Leadership Award, and activist, scholar, teacher, and author Evelyn Jones Rich, who will receive the Legacy of Teaching Africa and Excellence Award. The 2023 Corporate Responsibility Award will be presented to MTN Group, Africa’s largest wireless telecommunications provider, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will receive the Philanthropic Impact Award.
“For any institution to reach 70 years is a remarkable achievement, and I am so exceptionally proud to be part of this journey,” said Kofi Appenteng, AAI’s President, in a press release shared with ESSENCE. “For seven decades, AAI has stayed true to our purpose, and we will continue to carry the torch. This year’s honorees are so closely and directly connected to our mission and, in some cases, our history as with Evelyn. I can’t think of a more fitting group to recognize as part of this milestone moment.”
The AAI was established in 1953 in Washington, D.C., by Dr. Horace Mann Bond, the first Black president of Lincoln University, William Leo Hansberry, a pioneering professor at Howard University, and Henrietta Van Noy of American University, among others. Since then, the AAI has worked to improve the global understanding of Africa and its worldwide diaspora and increase educational opportunities for students and leaders across sectors.
Beloved marketing executive, author, and entrepreneur Bozoma Saint John will host the annual gala, which brings together heads of state, diplomats, government officials, business and civil society leaders, and scholars.
In celebration of seven decades of forging a global bridge of understanding, education, communication, and partnership, the event will highlight AAI’s notable alumni, historic programs, and partners. In addition to the annual awards gala, the organization’s other programs include a STEM scholarship program, partnerships with the NAACP, and a school service initiative offering a robust K-12 curriculum on Africa and its global diaspora.
“During this moment in history when connecting the diaspora is so important for the sustainability of progress on the continent. I can think of no better way to mark such an important milestone for such a significant organization than with a vibrant evening celebrating AAI’s rich history and looking ahead to its incredibly bright future – and the work still to be done,” said AAI Board Chair Christal Jackson.
The Africa-America Institute’s 70th Anniversary Gala will take place on Tuesday, September 19, in New York City during the United Nations General Assembly week.