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March 27, 2005|By Anica Butler

Charles M. Christian

Occupation: Professor of social and population geography at the University of Maryland, College Park.

In the news: Christian is the creator of the Black Saga Competition, a statewide contest for elementary and middle school children that tests pupils on their knowledge of African-American history and current events. The competition was held last weekend.

Career highlights: His book, Black Saga, was published in 1995, after 10 years of research. "It was my search for my roots and a connection with the past," he said. While working on the book, Christian founded the Black Saga Competition at Beltsville Academic Center in 1992. The competition, he says, allows young people to connect to the past. The contest became statewide eight years ago. More than 500 children of all racial backgrounds participate.

Personal: Raised in a rural town in eastern Texas, Christian earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla. He earned a doctorate in 1973 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has three adult children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Philosophy: "I think we all have a responsibility to contribute to society, to give back to society more than what we take out of it."

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