Manuel Zapata Olivella Center

The Mission of the Manuel Zapata Olivella Center is two-fold: (1.) to provide educational opportunity, life skills, work-related capacity building, and leadership development to that part of the immigrant community in the Washington, DC

... metro area which is most disadvantaged; and (2.) to lift up and celebrate the histories, cultures, and contribution of people of African descent to the societies of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States.

Our Educational Program Main Objective

The objective of the Manuel Zapata Olivella program is to provide an educational alternative for the immigrant community, which helps them to develop job skills and increase English communication abilities with the intention of easing their inclusion in the community at large.

Dr. Manuel Zapata Olivella

Manuel Zapata Olivella was a doctor, anthropologist, folklorist, diplomat, and writer. Olivella is the most important representative of Afro-Colombian literature and one of the most distinguished figures in contemporary Colombian literature. Born in 1920 in Lorica, a town located in the state of Cordoba on the Atlantic coast of Colombia, Manuel Zapata Olivella studied medicine at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. From 1943 to 1947, Olivella traveled to Central America and the United States to work on various projects. Later, he taught at universities in the United States, Central America and Africa. Olivella, who was from an intellectual family, founded and directed the literary magazine Letras Nacionales. One of the main characteristics of this writing is that he brings into focus the role of “el negro” in the history of Colombia, as well as, in the Americas. More specifically, we get a view of the plight of Afro-Colombians living on the Atlantic coast during Olivella’s lifetime. However, he studied all aspects of Afro-Colombian culture. Olivella’s dedication to cultural research and pride in Afro-Colombian embody the spirit in which the training program in his name was created.

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