Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Jennifer Cohen

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Constituency for Africa founder to present Neal-Marshall SPEA Public Policy Lecture

Foote to speak on "Why Africa Should Matter to the U.S."

Sept. 26, 2005

NOTE: A media availability with Foote has been tentatively scheduled for 5:45-6:15 p.m. on Oct. 5 in the Grand Hall at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Melvin P. Foote, founder and chief executive officer of the Constituency for Africa, a coalition of U.S.-based organizations and groups committed to the progress and empowerment of Africa and African people worldwide, will present the fall Neal-Marshall SPEA lecture at Indiana University Bloomington on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.

Foote will speak on the subject, "Why Africa Matters to the U.S.: Urgent issues, Critical Policies, Practical Solutions." His lecture will be in the Grand Hall in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave. The event is free and open to the public.

The Neal-Marshall SPEA Public Policy Lecture series was established in honor of Marcellus Neal and Frances Marshall, the first male and female African Americans, respectively, to graduate from IU. Previous speakers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Roger Wilkins, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page, U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., journalist Tavis Smiley and Jackson, Miss., Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr.

The event also coincides with the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club Reunion XVII Weekend (Oct. 7-9). More information on the reunion can be obtained at

Foote has been active on the African continent since the 1970s, when he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia and Eritrea. From 1981 to 1984, he was Africare's country representative in Somalia. From 1984 to 1994, he supervised Africare's educational and constituency development programs.

By 1990, it became clear to Foote that building public and private support for Africa in the United States was a vision shared by many, and 40 groups united to form CFA, which grew out of Africare to become an independent nonprofit organization in 1994. Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; David Dinkins, former mayor of New York; and C. Payne Lucas, former Africare president, all have served on the CFA's board of directors.

In the years since its founding, CFA has fostered a number of initiatives to reduce this nation's ignorance about Africa and to build an ongoing base of support for the continent. CFA now is developing a national advocacy campaign to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic affecting Africa.

Foote was the recipient of the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference's Diggs Award for Foreign Affairs in 2001. He has represented the United States in several fact-finding and trade missions to Africa and observed elections in Gabon.

The lecture is sponsored by the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club. It also is being presented by the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, the Black Graduate Student Association, the Black Student Union, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the African Student Association, Outreach Kenya Development Volunteers, and the Black Faculty and Staff Council.