Today the spotlight is on Member of the European Parliament Cecile Kyenge. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kyenge immigrated to Italy at 18 years old on a student visa to study medicine. She became a certified ophthalmologist in the city of Modena and eventually was appointed Italy’s first ever black minister. During her time as minister of integration, she was the victim of multiple hate-filled campaigns due to her race. Once, giving a speech as minister, an audience member threw bananas at Kyenge in an astonishing act of racism. While this instance stands out, it was not isolated as she has also been called a number of hateful names and even been the subject of doctored photos. Despite facing immense obstacles and challenging Italy’s typically homogenous society, Kyenge was elected to the European parliament in 2014 where she still serves today.
NYU will welcome Cecile Kyenge as the keynote speaker for the Race, Racism, and Xenophobia conference. She will speak about her own experiences facing racism and xenophobia, as well as her attempts to advocate for others that may face the same obstacles, like immigrants. Kyenge’s address will be on October 28th, at 10:00 AM in Hemmerdinger Hall.