||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (June 2012)|
African-American Studies is an interdisciplinary academic field devoted to the study of the history, culture, and politics of Black Americans. Taken broadly, the field studies not only the cultures of people of African descent in the United States, but the cultures of the entire African diaspora but it has been defined in different ways. The field includes scholars of African-American literature, history, politics, religion and religious studies, sociology, and many other disciplines within the humanities and social sciences.
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, Herbert Aptheker, Melville Herskovits, and Lorenzo Dow Turner.
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 can serve to eradicate many racial stereotypes. Black Studies implements: history, family structure, social and economic pressures, stereotypes, and gender relationships.
- 1 The Origins of African-American studies
- 2 Recent trends: emergence of Black Male Studies (BMS)
- 3 Universities and colleges with African-American Studies departments
- 4 Universities with Ph.D. programs in African-American Studies
- 5 Scholars in African-American studies
- 6 Scholarly and academic journals
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The Origins of African-American studies
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 citizens 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. This time period is characterized by American citizens being “sick and tired of being sick and tired”.
The students at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) were witnesses to the African-American Civil Rights Movement, and by 1964 they were thrust into activism. On October 1, 1964, Jack Weinberg, a 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. 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. 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...." The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a well-connected and organized club, hosted a conference entitled “Black Power and its Challenges". Black leaders who were directly tied to then ongoing civil rights movements spoke to a predominately white audience about their respective goals and challenges. These leaders included Stokely Carmichael (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), and James Bevel (Southern Christian Leadership Conference).
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. 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. 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. 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. ”The members of the Afro-American Student Union (AASU) proposed an academic department called “Black Studies” in April 1968. "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."
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.…" 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. A Black Studies Program was implemented by UC Berkeley administration on January 13, 1969. Many Black Studies Programs and departments and programs around the nation were created in subsequent years.
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.
When Ernie Davis from Syracuse University became the first African American to win the Heisman trophy in College football, it renewed debates about race in college campuses in the country. Inspired by the Davis win, civil rights movement and nation wide 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 a Black studies be taught at Syracuse. It existed as an independent, underfunded non-degree offering program from 1971 until 1979. It became a when it became the Department of African American Studies that could offer degrees.
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 student and faculty. 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 of which they may not be familiar. Budgetary issues make it difficult for Black Studies Programs and departments to function, and promote themselves.
Racism perpetrated by many administrators hinders the institutionalization of Black Studies at major universities. 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 offer financial assistance to these students. 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 was not 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 scholars.
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 book 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 masculine 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, foundations, research centers and institutes, academic journals, initiatives, and scholarly collectives emphasize or focus entirely on the status of Black boys and men in society.
Universities and colleges with African-American Studies departments
- American University
- Baruch College
- Brandeis University
- Carleton College
- College of William and Mary
- Dominican University
- Emory University
- Georgia State University
- Indiana University
- Ohio State University
- Loyola Marymount University
- Purdue University
- Syracuse University
- Temple University
- Tufts University
- University of California Los Angeles
- University of California Santa Barbara
- University of California Berkeley
- University of Houston
- University of Louisville
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- University of Michigan
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Texas at Austin
- University of Virginia
- University of Wisconsin
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Valdosta State University
- Vassar College
- Western Illinois University
- Yale University
- University of Kansas
- University of Rochester
- University of Oklahoma
- Wright State University
Universities with Ph.D. programs in African-American Studies
- Harvard University
- Indiana University
- Michigan State University
- Northwestern University
- Temple University
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
- Yale University
- University of Pennsylvania
Scholars in African-American studies
- Kwame Anthony Appiah
- Molefi Kete Asante
- M.K. Asante, Jr.
- Houston A. Baker Jr.
- Horace Campbell
- Hazel Carby
- Linda Carty
- Bill Cole
- Patricia Hill Collins
- Allison Davis
- Angela Y. Davis
- W. E. B. Du Bois
- Michael Eric Dyson
- Melissa Harris-Perry
- Tricia Rose
- Gerald Early
- John Hope Franklin
- E. Franklin Frazier
- Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
- Paul Gilroy
- Nathan Hare
- Melville Herskovits
- bell hooks
- Charles S. Johnson
- Charles E. Jones
- Jawanza Kunjufu
- Arthur Lewin
- Glenn C. Loury
- Manning Marable
- Janis Mayes
- Micere Mugo
- Mark Anthony Neal
- Adolph Reed
- Cedric Robinson
- Milton Sernett
- Renate Simson
- Robert B. Stepto
- Akinyele Umoja
- Cornel West
- William Julius Wilson
- Carter G. Woodson
- Sylvia Wynter
- Walter Rodney
- Geneva Smitherman
- Oliver Cromwell Cox
- C.L.R. James
- Maulana Karenga
- Kwame Ture
- Itibari M. Zulu
- Oba T'Shaka
- Vincent Harding
Scholarly and academic journals
- Afro-Americans in New York Life and History
- Negro History Bulletin
- Journal of Black Studies
- African American Review
- Negro Digest
- Journal of Negro History
- The Callaloo Journal
- Journal of African American History
- Journal of Negro Education
- Journal of Pan African Studies
- Race & Class
- Transition Magazine
- Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society
- Journal of African American Males in Education (JAAME)
- The Griot: The Journal of African American Studies
- Pan-African studies
- African studies
- Ethnic Studies
- Asian American Studies
- Chicano Studies
- Native American Studies
- Africana Studies
- Afro-Latino Studies
- See Pero Gaglo Dagbovie: The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene, University of Illinois Press, 2007.
- 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.’”
- Holland Cotter, "A Language Explorer Who Heard Echoes of Africa" (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.”
- Jerry DeMuth, "Fannie Lou Hamer: Tired of Being Sick and Tired," The Nation, June 1, 1964, 548-551.
- Philips, Mary (2010). "Origins of Black Studies at UC Berkeley". Journal of Western Black Studies 34: 256.
- "Free Speech Café Mural". Moffit Library (University of California, Berkeley).
- "Origins of Black Studies at UC Berkeley". Journal of Western Black Studies (Print): 256. 2010.
- "EOP Offers Aid". Daily Californian. October 19, 1970.
- "Racial, ethnic minorities 7.02 percent of Cal Students". California Monthly. July–August 1966.
- "Negro Group Afro-American Rally Will Oppose SDS", Daily Californian, Editorial, October 26, 1966.
- "Origins of Black Studies at UC Berkeley". Journal of Western Black Studies: 257. 2010.
- "Afro-American Studies Proposal", Daily Californian, Editorial, March 4, 1969.
- Barlow W. & Shapiro (1971). An End to Silence: The San Francisco State Student Movement in the 60s. New York: Pegasus.
- Timeka N. Williams, "Revolutionary Minds: Students build Black Studies at SU", Newshouse, April 24, 2009.
- African American Studies - History, Syracuse University.
- "Black Studies: Challenges and Critical Debates". Journal of Western Black Studies: 273–274. 2010.
- "Black Male Development Symposium". Blackmaledevelopment.com. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "The Schott Foundation – 50 State Black Boys Report". Blackboysreport.org. August 17, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "OSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion | Homepage". Oma.osu.edu. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "The Center for African American Male Research Success and Leadership". Centerforafricanamericanmales.org. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- UCLA's Black Male Institute. Accessed October 17, 2011.
- "The Journal Of Black Masculinity". Blackmasculinity.com. March 31, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "Home". Theblackmaleinitiative.org. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "Black Male Initiative – Current Initiatives – CUNY". Cuny.edu. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "About us". The Morehouse Male Initiative. November 1, 2006. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "African American Male Initiative, in Raleigh, North carolina". Babiesonthegostudios.com. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "Brothers of the Academy Institute". Brothersoftheacademy.org. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- University of Pennsylvania. "PhD Program". Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- 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
- Afro-American Studies Newsletter/The Vision (MUM00511) at the University of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections.