Dr. Leonard Jeffries is a political scientist, historian, educator, master-teacher/administrator and Pan-Africanist. He was born and raised in Newark, NJ where as a young man, he first developed his leadership skills and Pan-African consciousness. After receiving an excellent formal and informal education at outstanding universities, in America and Europe, he has become a leading voice in the African-centered education movement. He is regarded as a foremost authority on Africa, having traveled to the continent, Latin America and the Caribbean more than 100 times on various missions and projects. He speaks fluent French and has taken courses in Portuguese and Russian.
He has recently been appointed the International Executive Director of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (O.A.A.U.), founded in 1964 by El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X). Dr. Jeffries and his colleagues plan to build on the vision of Malcolm X and expand the legacy of Pan-Africanism for the 21st century. He is currently the International President of the World African Diaspora Union (WADU). He is also a founding director and a former Vice-President and President of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC). In 1986, at the ASCAC Conference in New York, Dr. Jeffries proposed that a pilgrimage and conference be held in the Nile Valley. In 1987, 1000 Black men, women and children, from the United States, attended this historical event. In 1969, during the Black Studies explosion, Dr. Jeffries assisted Dr. John Henrik Clarke establish the African-centered organization the African Heritage Studies Association (AHSA) and later became its vice-president and national president. In 1975-76, he joined other scholars as the founding director of the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS), which coordinated the activities of hundreds of Black Studies Programs and Department throughout the United States.
In the late 1960’s, Dr. Jeffries was among the handful of people asked to take on the extraordinary task of developing the first Black Studies programs and departments in the country. In 1969, he was appointed by San Jose State College in California, to set up one of the earliest degree-granting Black Studies Department. Prof. Jeffries began to build on firm ground, his own vision of a curriculum based on the "African world focus." In 1972, Dr. Leonard Jeffries was recruited by City College of New York to organize their Black Studies Department. Over the next three decades, Dr. Jeffries and his colleagues developed the most comprehensive Black Studies Department in the country. The program objectives were first and foremost academic excellence, community-orientation and overseas outreach to Africa, the Caribbean and Brazil. During his tenure, the department sponsored/hosted/organized 25 major national and international conferences and seminars.
During the past 50 years, Dr. Jeffries life has truly been an excellent example of commitment to the current theme of the African Union (AU) which is Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance. His education, research and publication attest to his growth and development as a Pan-African bridge builder.
Dr. Jeffries’ personal leadership development and contribution on the national and international level included completing, in 1959, a 150-page honors research thesis for the Lafayette College B.A degree, entitled, The Urban Crisis: Study of Intergroup Relations. This was followed in 1959-60, by a year of studying abroad after winning a Rotary International Fellowship and being awarded a certificate of International Affairs, from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. In 1960-61, during his year of studying law at New York University, he made a dramatic career change after hearing a presentation on the Challenge of Africa by the Rev. Dr. James H. Robinson, founder and director of Operation Crossroads Africa, a unique work-camp study program linking Africans and Americans on projects throughout Africa. He took his first trip to Africa with Crossroads in 1961 to the Ivory Coast Republic. His leadership abilities and proficiency in French made him as asset to the program. He was asked to join the Crossroads staff and was chosen to be the leader of the projects to the Senegal Republic in 1962 and the Republic of Guinea in 1963. By 1964, he had travel to Africa a dozen times and was made the regional representative of Crossroads based in Accra, Ghana, responsible for West and Central Africa.