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Honoring a 50-year Legacy of Student Activism: The DGSC Logo Centers Sankofa



If there were ever a time to have the courage to reinvent ourselves, as students, teachers, scholars, artists, activists, and as global citizens, now is the time. With all our hearts, dreams, hopes, fears, and losses, in the wake of such a seismic inflection point, what a pandemic has not stolen, the toxic, imperialist, capitalist institutions such as the military, policing, prison and crimmigration industrial complex have. We must ask ourselves and one another, what is the worth of our lives, of our Black and Brown Sisters’ and Brothers’ lives? From where have we come? Is this our battle to wage? What do we hope to achieve? It is time to reinvent ourselves while remaining loyal to our roots. An African proverb reminds us…. “When the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” The winds of change are upon us… indeed, CHANGE is the only constant and the only thing we can count on if humanity is to survive this epoch. The most lethal public health crisis in modern human history should not be called the “Great Equalizer,” but rather, the “Great Revealer.” 

It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten

Sankofa is a verb in the Akan language of Ghana that translates as: “reach back and get it,” (“SAN” – to return, “KO” – to go, “FA” – to fetch, to seek, and take). Powerfully embodied in the form of a bird that as she moves forward turns her head backward to retrieve the precious egg she has left behind, Sankofa has been reimagined in countless forms by those whose lives it transforms. Sankofa is often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa ayenkyi,” which translates as, “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” In positioning Sankofa at the center of our new identity, we are empowering and amplifying our students’ voices, especially those marginalized, disenfranchised, and disempowered.

The Doctoral Students’ Council was established in 1970, and as we mark 50 years, we are reaching back and harnessing both pain and promise to achieve our fullest potential as we strive to move forward in a new world. 

The DGSC remains committed to social, legal, racial, economic and environmental justice, and the human freedom of voice, movement, and protection from any form of harm. We believe bottom-up change is possible by placing people over politics, social capital over labor capital, divestment from institutions of injustice and reinvestment in the education of our communities, starting with our children and youth. We have fallen and risen from the COVID-19 global pandemic, when the institutions of injustice were laid bare, inspiring us to tear down walls and build bridges in their place, to cultivate local and global human networks, based on the human principles of collaboration, diplomacy, equality, compassion, empathy, courage, wisdom, purpose, and above all, LOVE. 

As he led the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. reminded a divided nation that we need one another and we are stronger together in “the fierce urgency of now.” In light of the urgency of a new “now,” we have been challenged to recreate our roles in fostering continued connection in these times of social distancing. Our urgency is now, and it is our turn to rededicate ourselves to the words of wisdom spoken by Martin Luther King Jr., “I HAVE A DREAM.” It is in these moments of chaos and stillness that the limits of what we had dreamt possible become untethered; we are thus freed from this bondage of what we thought possible. We have found it within our power to upend the institutions of injustice through our scholarship and civic engagement from the ground up. Indeed, it is our moral imperative to do so, now more than ever. This is what Sankofa means to us.

~ This logo and its design was inspired by and is lovingly dedicated to the memory of the life of our comrade and fellow CUNY student, Kalief Browder. Rest in power, Kalief.


Logo design by Rod Hurley, former Co-Chair for Communications 2019-2021.