In Memoriam: A Tribute to Roger Wilkins

In Memoriam: A Tribute to Roger Wilkins from the Africa-America Institute


The Africa-America Institute enjoyed the privilege of Roger Wilkins’ leadership as Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1993-2000.   His tenure was the culmination of 44 years of engagement with Africa, which started when he arrived in New York right from law school in 1956.  A lifelong champion for civil rights in the US and in Africa, Roger’s legacy will last forever; and our cherished memories of him will live forever in our hearts.  He was the finest of scholars, mentors, fighters and friends – and he will be missed.  As we gather for his Memorial Services this weekend in Washington, DC, we offer in tribute his own words, excerpted from his acceptance speech at annual AAI Awards Gala in 2005 (click here for a link to the full transcript of his speech).  His words, prescient and wise as ever, still ring true today.   Roger, we salute you.


Kofi Appenteng         Steve Pfeiffer

President                   Chairman



During his first official State Visit to the United States as President of South Africa in October 1994, Nelson Mandela was presented with the African-American Institute’s Arthur A. Houghton Star Crystal Award for Excellence, in the company of AAI’s Board of Trustees at Blair House. The photo of the Blair House moment is a stunning picture of Madiba; AAI board chairman, Roger Wilkins; former AAI President, Vivian Derrick; AAI Board member, Trustee Emeritus, Maurice Tempelsman, a staunch anti-apartheid supporter and confidant to many African leaders; Frank Ferrari; Executive VP Steve MacDonald and VP Jerry Drew. The occasion was a stellar moment for AAI as Madiba thanked AAI for its steadfast advocacy, reflected on the importance of education for a healthy nation and painted a picture of a future South Africa as a rainbow nation.


“AAI has itself become a role model for the kind of stable and effective institution that Africa wants and needs to accomplish its myriad national goals. And I am pleased that the new influx of Africans into America is serving to introduce both American citizens and policy makers to real Africans, instead of broad-stroke stereotypes that have previously filled the American imagination. “

-Roger Wilkins


TRANSCRIPT – Roger Wilkins Speech

Chairman of the Board from 1993-2000

Trustee Emeritus: 2000-2017






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