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Academic looks forward to reparations work in Amherst

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Amilcar Shabazz is a professor of African American Studies at UMass Amherst.
Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com
Amilcar Shabazz

Prominent UMass professor of Africana Studies Amilcar Shabazz began life with a more mundane name. He grew up in Texas as Eric Frank. Then in college, Shabazz read a great deal about Malcom X and other Black activists.

“That name of Eric that my mother just saw in a movie. I think with the male character versus Audrey Hepburn, you know, that's all fine and good, but I wanted something culturally meaningful,” Shabazz told And Another Thing.

He changed his last name to Shabazz, which is a name Malcom X and members of his family adopted. He changed his first name to Amilcar in honor of Amílcar Cabral, who led an independence movement for Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau.

And Another Thing devotes Mondays to in depth conversations with a single guest about important issues and challenges they have faced. Amilcar Shabazz was the guest on November 22, 2021.

Shabazz moved with his family from Oklahoma to Amherst in 2007 to join the UMass faculty and became involved in his new community. He is now a member of the African Heritage Reparation Assembly, which will determine how the town goes about making reparations to descendants of slaves. Amherst is the only town in Massachusetts that has committed itself to reparations.

“People are ready now more than ever for a narrative, for a story, for a framework, for policy, for action to make real, transformative change in our society that can address these disparities. That can address these inequities. That cannot address the exclusions. That can address the segregated spaces that can address the tiki torch parades,” said Shabazz.

This episode of And Another Thing was originally broadcast on November 22, 2021.

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