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African-American studies

African-American studies (alternately named Afroamerican studies, or in US education, black studies) is an interdisciplinary academic field that is primarily devoted to the study of the history, culture, and politics of black people from the United States. African American studies are a sub-field of African diaspora studies and Africana studies, the study of the people of African origin worldwide. The field has been defined in different ways, but taken broadly, it not only studies African slave descendants but also any community of the African diaspora linked to the Americas. The field includes scholars of African American (as well as Caribbean, African, and Afro-European) literature, history, politics, and religion as well as those from disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, education, and many other disciplines within the humanities and social sciences.[1] And, increasingly, African-American Studies departments are hiring and partnering with STEM scholars.

Intensive academic efforts to reconstruct African American history began in the late 19th century (W. E. B. Du Bois, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America, 1896). Among the pioneers in the first half of the 20th century were Carter G. Woodson,[2] Herbert Aptheker, Melville Herskovits, and Lorenzo Dow Turner.[3][4]

Programs and departments of African American Studies were first created in the 1960s and 1970s as a result of inter-ethnic student and faculty activism at many universities, sparked by a five-month strike for black studies at San Francisco State. In February 1968, San Francisco State hired sociologist Nathan Hare to coordinate the first black studies program and write a proposal for the first Department of Black Studies; the department was created in September 1968 and gained official status at the end of the five-months strike in the spring of 1969. The creation of programs and departments in black studies was a common demand of protests and sit-ins by minority students and their allies, who felt that their cultures and interests were underserved by the traditional academic structures.

Black studies is a systematic way of studying black people in the world – such as their history, culture, sociology, and religion. It is a study of the black experience and the effect of society on them and their effect within society. This study aims to, among other things, help eradicate many racial stereotypes. Black studies implements history, family structure, social and economic pressures, stereotypes, and gender relationships.


The Civil Rights context

In the United States the 1960s is rightfully known as the "Turbulent Sixties." During this time period the nation experienced great social unrest, as residents challenged the social order in radical ways. Many movements took place in the United States during this time period, including women’s rights movement, labor rights movement, and the civil rights movement.[5]

The students at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) were witnesses to the Civil Rights Movement, and by 1964 they were thrust into activism.[6] On October 1, 1964, Jack Weinberg, a former graduate student, was sitting at a table where the Congress of Racial Equality was distributing literature encouraging students to protest against institutional racism. Police asked Weinberg to produce his ID to confirm that he was a student, but he refused to do so and was therefore arrested. In support of Weinberg, 3,000 students surrounded the police vehicle, and even used the car as a podium from where they spoke about their right to engage in political protest on campus.[7] This impromptu demonstration was the first of many protests, culminating in the institutionalization of African American Studies.

Two months later students at UC Berkeley organized sit-in at the Sproul Hall Administration building to protest an unfair rule which prohibited all political clubs from fundraising, excluding the democrat and republican clubs.[8] Police arrested 800 students. Students a “Freedom of Speech Movement” and Mario Savio became its poetic leader, stating that “freedom of speech was something that represents the very dignity of what a human is...."[7] The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a well-connected and organized club, hosted a conference entitled “Black Power and its Challenges".[8] Black leaders who were directly tied to then ongoing civil rights movements spoke to a predominantly white audience about their respective goals and challenges. These leaders included Stokely Carmichael of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and James Bevel of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Educational conferences like that of SDS forced the university to take some measures to correct the most obvious racial issue on campus—the sparse black student population.[9] In 1966 the school held its first official racial and ethnic survey, it which it was discovered that the “American Negro” represented 1.02% of the university population.[10] In 1968 the university instituted its Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) facilitated the increased minority student enrollment, and offered financial aid to minority students with high potential.[9] By 1970 there were 1,400 EOP students. As the minority student population increased tension between activists clubs and minorities rose, because minority wanted the reigns of the movement that affected them directly. One student asserted that it was “backward to educate white people about Black Power when many black people are still uneducated on the matter.[11] ”The members of the Afro-American Student Union (AASU) proposed an academic department called “Black Studies” in April 1968.[12] "We demand a program of 'Black Studies,' a program that will be of and for black people. We demand to be educated realistically and that no form of education which attempts to lie to us, or otherwise miss-educate us will be accepted."[13]

AASU members asserted that “The young people of America are the inheritors of what is undoubtedly one of the most challenging, and threatening set of social circumstances that has ever fallen upon a generation of young people in history...."[13] AASU used these claims to gain ground on their proposal to create a black studies department. Nathan Hare, a sociology professor at San Francisco State University, created what was known as the “A Conceptual Proposal for Black Studies” and AASU used Hare’s framework to create a set of criteria.[14] A Black Studies Program was implemented by UC Berkeley administration on January 13, 1969. In 1969, St. Clair Drake was named the first chair of the degree granting, Program in African and Afro-American Studies at Stanford University.[15] Many Black Studies Programs and departments and programs around the nation were created in subsequent years.[citation needed]

At University of California, Santa Barbara, similarly, student activism led to the establishment of a Black Studies department, amidst great targeting and discrimination of student leaders of color on the University of California campuses. In the fall of 1968, black students from UCSB joined the national civil rights movement to end racial segregation and exclusion of Black history and studies from college campuses.Triggered by the insensitivity of the administration and general campus life, they occupied North Hall and presented the administration with a set of demands. Such efforts led to the eventual creation of the Black Studies department and the Center for Black Studies.[16]

Similar activism was happening outside of California. At Yale University, a committee headed by political scientist Robert Dahl recommended establishing an undergraduate major in African American culture, one of the first such at an American university.[17]

When Ernie Davis from Syracuse University became the first African American to win the Heisman trophy in college football, it renewed debates about race on college campuses in the country. Inspired by the Davis win, civil rights movement, and nationwide student activism, in 1969 Black and White students led by the Student African American Society (SAS) at Syracuse University marched in front of the building at Newhouse and demanded Black studies be taught at Syracuse.[18] It existed as an independent, underfunded non-degree offering program from 1971 until 1979.[19] In 1979 the program became the Department of African American Studies, offering degrees within the College of Arts and Sciences.[19]

Recent challenges and criticism

One of the major setbacks with Black Studies/African American Studies Programs or departments is that there is a lack of financial resources available to students and faculty.[20] Many universities and colleges around the country provided Black Studies programs with small budgets and therefore it is difficult for the department to purchase materials and hire staff. Because the budget allocated to Black Studies is limited, some faculty are jointly appointed, therefore causing faculty to leave their home disciplines to teach a discipline with which they may not be familiar. Budgetary issues make it difficult for Black Studies Programs and departments to function and to promote themselves.

Some critics[who?] claim that racism perpetrated by many administrators hinders the institutionalization of Black Studies at major universities.[20] As with the case of UC Berkeley, most of the Black Studies programs across the country were instituted because of the urging and demanding of black students to create the program. In many instances black students also called for the increased enrollment of black students and financial assistance to these students.[20] Also seen in the case of UC Berkeley is the constant demand to have such a program, but place the power of control in the hands of black people. The idea was that black studies could not be “realistic” if it were taught by someone who was not accustomed to the black experience. On many campuses directors of black studies have little to no autonomy—they do not have the power to hire or grant tenure to faculty. On many campuses an overall lack of respect for the discipline has caused instability for the students and for the program.

In the past thirty years there has been a steady decline of Black studies scholars.[20]

Recent trends: emergence of Black Male Studies (BMS)

African American studies scholars have often explored the unique experiences of black boys/men. This line of research dates back to W. E. B. Dubois in his analysis of black male training in his 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk. Though African American studies as its own discipline has been in decline, its perpetuation as a sub-discipline in various social science fields (e.g., education, sociology, cultural anthropology, urban studies) has risen. This rise has coincided with the emergence of men's studies (also referred to as masculinity studies). Since the early 1980s increasing interest in Black males among scholars and policy makers has resulted in a marked rise in the sub-discipline Black Male Studies. Today, numerous books, research articles, conferences,[21] foundations,[22] research centers[23][24] and institutes,[25] academic journals,[26] initiatives,[27][28][29] and scholarly collectives[30] emphasize or focus entirely on the status of Black boys and men in society.

Universities and colleges with African American Studies departments and programs (incomplete)

  1. *American University
  2. *Amherst College
  3. *Baruch College
  4. *Brandeis University
  5. *Brown University
  6. *Carleton College
  7. *Cleveland State University
  8. *College of William and Mary
  9. *Columbia University
  10. *California State University, Dominguez Hills
  11. *California State University, Fullerton
  12. *Dominican University
  13. *Duke University[31]
  14. *Emory University
  15. *Eastern Kentucky University
  16. *Eastern Michigan University
  17. *Fordham University
  18. *Georgetown University
  19. *Georgia State University
  20. *Indiana University
  21. *Ohio State University
  22. *Loyola Marymount University
  23. *Luther College
  24. *Mount Holyoke College
  25. *Middle Tennessee State University
  26. *Pennsylvania State University[32]
  27. *Portland State University[33]
  28. *Princeton University
  29. *Purdue University
  30. *Syracuse University
  31. *Temple University
  32. *Tufts University
  33. *University at Albany[34]
  34. *University at Buffalo
  35. *University of Arkansas
  36. *University of California Irvine[35]
  37. *University of California Los Angeles
  38. *University of California Davis
  39. *University of California Santa Barbara
  40. *University of California, San Diego
  41. *University of California Berkeley
  42. *University of Florida
  43. *University of Houston
  44. *University of Louisville
  45. *University of Massachusetts Amherst
  46. *University of Michigan
  47. *University of Montana
  48. *University of Nebraska at Omaha
  49. *University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill[36]
  50. *University of North Carolina at Charlotte[37]
  51. *University of North Carolina at Greensboro[38]
  52. *University of North Texas
  53. *University of Pennsylvania
  54. *University of Oregon
  55. *University of Puget Sound
  56. *University of South Carolina
  57. *University of Texas at Austin
  58. *University of Texas at Arlington
  59. *University of Virginia
  60. *University of the Virgin Islands
  61. *University of Wisconsin
  62. *Virginia Commonwealth University
  63. *Valdosta State University
  64. *Vassar College
  65. *Western Illinois University
  66. *Wright State University
  67. *Yale University
  68. *University of Kansas
  69. *University of Rochester
  70. *University of Oklahoma
  71. *Wright State University
  72. *Nassau Community College

Universities with Ph.D. programs in African American Studies

Scholarly and academic journals

See also


  1. ^ "African American studies facts, information, pictures - articles about African American studies".
  2. ^ See Pero Gaglo Dagbovie: The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene, University of Illinois Press, 2007.
  3. ^ Jason Kelly, "Lorenzo Dow Turner, PhD ’26: A linguist who identified the African influences in the Gullah dialect" (University of Chicago Magazine, November-December 2010): "Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect (1949) ... was considered not only the defining work of Gullah language and culture but also the beginning of a new field, African American Studies. 'Until then it was pretty much thought that all of the African knowledge and everything had been erased by slavery. Turner showed that was not true,' [curator Alcione] Amos says. ‘He was a pioneer. He was the first one to make the connections between African Americans and their African past.'"
  4. ^ Holland Cotter, "A Language Explorer Who Heard Echoes of Africa" (The New York Times, September 2, 2010): “Turner published ‘Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect,’ a book that would help pave the way for the field of African-American studies in the 1960s.”
  5. ^ Jerry DeMuth, "Fannie Lou Hamer: Tired of Being Sick and Tired," The Nation, June 1, 1964, 548–551.
  6. ^ Philips, Mary (2010). "Origins of Black Studies at UC Berkeley". Journal of Western Black Studies. 34: 256.
  7. ^ a b "Free Speech Café Mural". Moffit Library (University of California, Berkeley).
  8. ^ a b "Origins of Black Studies at UC Berkeley". Journal of Western Black Studies (Print): 256. 2010.
  9. ^ a b "EOP Offers Aid". Daily Californian. October 19, 1970.
  10. ^ "Racial, ethnic minorities 7.02 percent of Cal Students". California Monthly (Editorial). July–August 1966.
  11. ^ "Negro Group Afro-American Rally Will Oppose SDS", Daily Californian, Editorial, October 26, 1966.
  12. ^ "Origins of Black Studies at UC Berkeley". Journal of Western Black Studies (Editorial): 257. 2010.
  13. ^ a b "Afro-American Studies Proposal", Daily Californian, Editorial, March 4, 1969.
  14. ^ Barlow W. & Shapiro (1971). An End to Silence: The San Francisco State Student Movement in the 60s. New York: Pegasus.
  15. ^ "African & African American Studies - Stanford University".
  16. ^ "About the Department - Department of Black Studies - UC Santa Barbara".
  17. ^ Douglas Martin, "Robert A. Dahl Dies at 98; Defined Politics and Power", The New York Times, February 8, 2014.
  18. ^ "Revolutionary Minds - The NewsHouse - Syracuse University and Community News - S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications". Archived from the original on October 4, 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  19. ^ a b "Redirect".
  20. ^ a b c d "Black Studies: Challenges and Critical Debates". Journal of Western Black Studies (Editorial): 273–274. 2010.
  21. ^ "Black Male Development Symposium". Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  22. ^ "The Schott Foundation – 50 State Black Boys Report". August 17, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  23. ^ "OSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion | Homepage". Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  24. ^ "The Center for African American Male Research Success and Leadership". Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  25. ^ "UCLA Black Male Institute".
  26. ^ "The Journal of Black Masculinity". March 31, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  27. ^ "Home". Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  28. ^ "Black Male Initiative – Current Initiatives – CUNY". Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  29. ^ "About us". The Morehouse Male Initiative. November 1, 2006. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  30. ^ "Brothers of the Academy Institute". Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  31. ^ "Duke African & African American Studies".
  32. ^ "African American Studies". Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  33. ^ "Black Studies Department - Portland State University".
  34. ^ "Department of Africana Studies - University at Albany-SUNY".
  35. ^ "Home - UCI African American Studies".
  36. ^ "Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies".
  37. ^ "Department of Africana Studies".
  38. ^ "African American Studies - Majors - UNCG Admissions". Archived from the original on May 9, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  39. ^ "Graduate — African American Studies". Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  40. ^ University of Texas at Austin African and African Diaspora Studies. "Graduate Admissions for Master's and Ph.D. Programs". Archived from the original on March 31, 2014. Retrieved March 30, 2014.
  41. ^ University of Pennsylvania. "PhD Program". Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2012.

Further reading

  • Fabio Rojas: From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-8018-8619-8
  • Kemner, Jochen. "African-American Movements" (2012). University Bielefeld - Center for InterAmerican Studies.

External links