He tells the story of Anton Wilhelm Amo Afer. He was five years old when he was brought from the Gold Coast to Germany in 1707, educated at a royal court and became an eminent philosopher. He argues that this elaborate Enlightenment experiment illuminates a series of mistaken ideas , including that there is a "racial essence" which all members of that race carry. Modern science long ago disproved this, as almost all of the world's genetic variation is found within every so-called racial group. Instead, "race is something we make; not something that makes us."
First, what role has Africa played in the liberation struggle and the creation of an alternative to “European Civilization”? Of special importance here is the place Africa has occupied in the struggle in the United States for Black Power [and against . apartheid (or “Jim Crow”)], and the reconstruction/revaluation of African identity and values. From Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and Alice Walker, most Black revolutionaries have seen their relation to Africa as crucial to their political, intellectual project. What has Africa—in practice and in the collective imagination—meant in the struggle of black people in the US and worldwide? What ideological, political, philosophical visions has the African struggle for self-determination opened up for the anti-colonial revolt worldwide?
On May 21 2015, he spoke at the NYU Law School Commencement ceremonies for the graduating class of LLM students; and then gave a commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College the next day. Also in May of 2015, he was elected to an Honorary Fellowship at Clare College, Cambridge. In January 2016, Professor Appiah had the honor of becoming the president of the Modern Language Association . In May 2016, he spoke to the doctoral degree recipients in the College of Arts and Sciences at NYU and received an honorary degree from Wesleyan University .