An African proverb says,“When an old person dies, a library burns to the ground.”
Although this saying is very true, at least now a significant portion of memorabilia belonging to certain griots from our communities can be housed and put on public display for future generations to benefit from. In the recent past, Dr. Georgina Falú and her Falú Foundation have established nonprofit organizations for several notable African scholar warriors so that their lifelong efforts continue to make an impact.
“We really need to create consciousness throughout our communities, institutions, groups and families of the importance of preserving all materials relating to, not only of our great outstanding scholars but also of many other people in our families, some of the elders who have so much precious family history,” Falú advised. “Once they are gone, we don’t have any other way of accessing that information.”
The Afro-borinqueño embarked on her journey shortly after migrating from Puerto Rico and meeting kemetaphysician Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannan in 1984, and he challenged her to seek her African heritage. She eventually traveled to the Motherland for the first time with “Dr. Ben,” as he is more affectionately known, and brought along her son.
“Most people have a very vague idea about our descendancy from Africa,” she noted. “The reality of the 150 million Blacks in Latin America, the least they acknowledge is that they descended from Africa, and that’s not a coincidence, it happened on purpose. The books, the courses in colleges and anything in literature, has eliminated any reference to the fact that we originated from Africa.”
Throughout the years, she devoted herself to acquiring a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Puerto Rico, a master’s in business administration from the University of California at Berkeley, a diploma from the Harvard Graduate School of Business, a master of arts degree and a doctorate in higher education finances and from Columbia University.
She took the knowledge she gained and gave it back to her community, launching her business in 1988.
“The main thrust has been to make new computer technology jobs, services, training and economic development opportunities available to the unemployed in this disadvantaged and underserved community,” reads the mission statement at falufoundationny.org.
With more than 35 years of experience as an educator at various institutions throughout Puerto Rico and the continental United States, including as an adjunct professor in CCNY’s Black Studies Department, she soon became a highly sought after lecturer who advocated for Afro-Latinos to seek their true origin.
“We don’t really know anything about our African heritage,” she indicated. “Everything we do should involve the process of preserving that information, because there is a denial all over the world not wanting to accept the contributions of the Africans and their descendants and we must continue the jobs these intellectual scholars did.”
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“The creation for jobs is not just a priority for Africa, it is a priority for Black communities where ever we are,” she stated. “Not only to create jobs, but to develop enterprises where we are the owners, we call the shots and make the decisions.”
In 2005 she created the Afro-Latinos of the Americas project to organize Spanish-speaking Afro-Hispanics throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and emphasize that they study their African heritage and history.
She is also an active member of the World African Diaspora Union, serving as an ambassador for pan-African unity, and building alliances with Africans throughout her global travels, including to Africa, Brazil, Columbia and Mexico.
“It is very important that we make an effort to help preserve the contributions of some of our outstanding leaders,” she asserted, also mentioning the foundation she established in 2014 for the family of activist Elombe Brath, who had joined the ancestors.
That funding will help, “to digitalize his papers, photos, documents and anything relating to their experiences so that we secure that their works continue, and the preservation of documents for future generations.”
Last year she also established a nonprofit organization for ben-Jochannan’s family to help archive his vast personal library of more than 35,000 books, as well as one for his colleagues, Drs. Leonard and Rosalind Jeffries.
“We must continue the work these intellectual scholars and thinkers did, like Dr. John Henrik Clarke and Malcolm X, and interest our children,” Falú said. “This job of preserving the legacy must go parallel with economic development of our communities and families. Strengthening the financial foundation of our communities is key. Why? Because we cannot do the jobs unless we develop and have at our disposal sufficient economic resources to develop those books, museums and archives which are the core of legacy preservation.”
Contact Falú at email@example.com.