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African American Studies

The Discipline and Its Dimensions

by Nathaniel Norment, Jr. (Author)
Textbook XXXIV, 684 Pages

Table Of Content


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Tables

Table 1.1 Theoretical Paradigms in African American Studies

Table 1.2 Disciplinary Research Methods Used in African American Studies

Table 1.3 Institutions Conferring Bachelor’s Degrees in 2002–200

Table 1.4 Institutions Conferring Ph.D. Degrees

Table 1.5 Institutions Conferring Master’s Degrees in 2002–200

Table 1.6 Bodies of Knowledge and Contents of African American Studies

Table 5.1 Black Prisoners by Offense

Table 5.2 State and Federal Prison Incarceration

Table 5.3 Population by Sex and Age for Black Alone and White Alone

Table 5.4 Top 20 Cities with Largest African American Population

Table 5.5 Marital Status of the Population Age 15 Years and Over by Sex, for Black Alone and White Alone, Not Hispanic

Table 5.6 Family and Nonfamily Household Type, for Black Alone and White Alone, Not Hispanic Households

Table 6.1 Dixon’s Comparison of Euro-American and African Philosophical Orientation

Table 7.1 Religion/Denomination

Table 10.1 Homeownership Rates by Race and Ethnicity of Householder

Table 10.2 Earnings of Full-Time, Year-Round Workers 15 Years and Over in 2003 by Sex, for Black Alone and White Alone, Not Hispanic

Table 10.3 Total Money Income in 2003 of Families by Type, for Black Alone and White Alone, Not Hispanic Families

Table 10.4 African Americans Net Worth

Table 10.5 The Wage Gap by Gender and Race

Table 10.6 Major Occupation Group of the Employed Civilian Population 16 Years and Over by Sex, for Black Alone and White Alone, Not Hispanic ← xvii | xviii →

Table 10.7 Poverty Status of Families in 2003 by Type, for Black Alone and White Alone, Not Hispanic Families

Table 10.8 Employment Status of the Population 16 Years and Over in the Civilian Labor Force by Sex, for Black Alone and White Alone, Not Hispanic

Table 10.9 Earnings of Full-Time Year-Round Workers 15 Years and Over in 2003 by Sex, for Black Alone and White Alone, Not Hispanic

Table 10.10 Total Money Income in 2003 of Families by Type, for Black Alone and White Alone, Not Hispanic Families

Table 10.11 Black-Owned Businesses

Table 11.1 Notable African American Gospel Artists

Table 11.2 Notable African American Jazz Musicians

Table 11.3 Notable African American DJs

Table 15.1 Educational Attainment of the Population 25 Years and Over by Sex, for Black Alone and White Alone, Not Hispanic

Table 16.1 First Science Doctorates Awarded to African Americans “The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences”

Table 16.2 Black First: 2000 Years of Extraordinary Achievement in Science and Technology

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Figures

Figure 1.1 Fields and Functions of African American Studies and Public Policy

Figure 11.1 The Evolution of African American Music

Figure 13.1 “Little Black Girl” by King-Steven Adebanji

Figure 13.2 “Mother and Daughter” by Michael Wilson

Figure 13.3 “North Star” by Assata Norment

Figure 13.4 “Attitude” by CMolly

Figure 13.5 “For Harriet” by Anthony Hale

Figure 13.6 “Brothers” by Rosemaire Mollison

Figure 13.7 “Mother and Sons” by Clarence Alexander

Figure 13.8 “Crest” by Maurice Evans

Figure 13.9 “Queen of Clubs” by Natasha Townsel

Figure 13.10 “Black Gem” by Paul Branton

Figure 13.11 “Untitled” by Trevor Lightsy

Figure 13.12 “Black Man” by Waymon Lindsay

Figure 13.13 “Laundry Day” by Ahmed Salam

Figure 13.14 “Growth Process” by Joseph Stewart

Figure 13.15 “Tara’s Smile” by Wycliffe Link Bennett

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Preface

The discipline of African American Studies creates a space of intellectual agency that allows scholars to do academic work without being confined to the methodological paradigms of traditional disciplines. Hence, in African American Studies, all realms of knowledge become accessible to the scholar without concern for the embracing of traditional discipline-specific sanction. African American Studies as a discipline sought freedom from the enslavement of disciplinary boundaries and limitations. Therefore, this text gives honor to the invisible progenitors, that is, our founders who demanded our entry as equal and independent scholars.

African American Studies has taught the contributions of African people to the world. This textbook, African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions,1 includes the work of many scholars who have produced the knowledge content of this discipline. Contemporary scholars and students must be able to trace the evolution of the discipline in order to evaluate if the discipline has deviated from or stayed true to its original mission. It is absolutely necessary for students to know the original “blueprint/purpose”2 of Black Studies in order to understand arguments made for the discipline’s existence and to recognize its place in the academy and community.

This text presents the discipline’s subject matter about African Americans from an African-centered perspective.3 The various bodies of knowledge, the philosophical framework, methodological procedures, and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline have never been clearly delineated. This text attempts to do so. In order for any discipline to thrive, how the discipline emerged4 and the academic and historical legitimacy of its subject matter must be clear. Further, arguments and debates that scholars such as John Blassingame, John Henrik Clarke, St. Clair Drake, Nick Aaron Ford, Vivian Gordon, Ewart Guinier, Nathan Hare, Wilfred Cartey, Maulana Karenga, James Turner, Harold Cruse, Martin Kilson, Bertha Maxwell, and Sidney F. Walton initiated some forty-five years ago can now be discussed with the benefit of a comprehensive text which juxtaposes all aspects of the discipline of African American Studies. ← xxi | xxii →

Despite publications since 1968,5 today there is not a viable textbook that effectively incorporates the genealogy and worldview in which African American Studies scholars make meaning and produce knowledge. An introductory text for the discipline is crucial6 in providing an overview of the African antecedent, the history of African-centered thought in the Diaspora, the Africana worldview, and delineating the contributions of the exemplars of the interdisciplinary Africana Studies, highlighting their approaches, methods, and ways in which they applied their intellectual work to social uplift. This is a monumental task and scholars committed to the discipline must seek like-minded individuals dedicated to work on scholarly projects, much like the historical work completed by Dr. W. E. B DuBois in the Atlanta University’s studies and the Department of Labor in the early 20th century. Also, the work of the Institute of the Black World is a model that can be emulated, as well as the creation of a research committee within the National Council of Black Studies, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations. This is absolutely essential to further the discipline in the 21st century and for eternity.

Within African American Studies, this volume7 takes its place alongside a number of volumes in print or in preparation, which together will give a comprehensive documentation of the discipline. These include: Mario Azevedo, ed. (2005), Africana Studies: A Survey of Africa and the African Diaspora; Beverly Guy-Sheftall, ed. (1995), Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought; Nikongo BaNikongo, ed. (1997), Leading Issues in African-American Studies; Manning Marable, ed. (2000), Dispatches from the Ebony Tower: Intellectuals Confront the African American Experience; Talmadge Anderson (1990), Black Studies, Theory, Method and Cultural Perspectives; Floyd W. Hayes III (2001), A Turbulent Voyage: Readings in African American Studies; Maulana Karenga (2003), Introduction to Black Studies; James Turner, ed. (1984), The Next Decade: Theoretical and Research Issues in Africana Studies; Sidney F. Walton (1969), The Black Curriculum: Developing a Program in Afro-American Studies; Molefi Asante (1990), Kemet, Afrocentricity and Knowledge; Delores Aldridge and Carlene Young, eds. (2001), Out of the Revolution; James Conyers, Jr., ed. (1997), Africana Studies: A Disciplinary Quest for Both Theory and Method; Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith, ed. (1982), All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave; Armstead L. Robinson, Craig C. Foster, and Donald H. Ogilvie (1969), Black Studies in the University: A Symposium; Joyce A. Joyce (2005), Black Studies as Human Studies: Critical Essays and Interviews; Lewis Gordon and Jane Gordon (2006), A Companion to African American Studies; Marimba Ani (2000), Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior, 10th Edition; Molefi Asante and Maulana Karenga (2005), Handbook of Black Studies; Talmadge Anderson and James Stewart (2008), Introduction to African American Studies; and Nathaniel Norment Jr., editor, (2001/2007), The African American Studies Reader.

Notes

1. A discipline implies a set of formally interrelated facts, concepts, and generalizations. It also implies a set of standardized techniques and skills. The components are part and parcel of a body of theory, propositions, and a subject matter. The specific subject matter is normally what separates one discipline from another. Generally, disciplines have five basic components: (1) a rationale; (2) a body of literature; (3) a curriculum based on the major areas of the field; (4) an overall theoretical framework within which the various hypotheses can be constructed; and (5) methodologies by which the various hypotheses can be tested. For specific discussions relevant to African American/Black Studies as a discipline, see Phillip T. K. Daniel, “Black Studies: Discipline or Field of Studies?” The Western Journal of Black Studies 4, no. 3 (Fall 1980): 195–99; Preston Wilcox, “Black Studies as an Academic Discipline,” Negro Digest 19, no. 3 (1970): 75–87 and Black Studies as an Academic Discipline: Toward a Discipline (New York: Afam Associates, Inc., 1969).

For this textbook, Dimensions are the “traditional” academic disciplines and the bodies of knowledge that provide the foundations for the study of African American people. This author proposes sixteen fields of study: anthropology, art, dance, education, film, literature, psychology, sociology, philosophy, political science, economics, history, music, science and technology, sports, and religion that make up the bodies of knowledge in African American Studies. Within the general context of academia and education, African American Studies has not only contributed to existing bodies of knowledge, but has also generated new and challenging fields of study, epistemologies, perspectives, and approaches for examining the historical and contemporary experiences of people of African descent. ← xxii | xxiii →

2. See especially The National Council for Black Studies Mission Statement; Nathan Hare, “Questions and Answers about Black Studies,” The Massachusetts Review (1969): 727–36; Manning Marable, “Blueprint for Black Studies and Multi-culturalism,” Black Scholar 22, no. 3 (Summer 1992): 30–35; James B. Stewart, “Reaching for Higher Ground: Toward an Understanding of Black/Africana Studies,” The Afrocentric Scholar 1, no. 1 (1992): 1–69.

3. African Centeredness rests on the premise that it is valid to posit Africa as a geographical and cultural starting base of the study of people of African descent. This perspective makes it easier to trace and understand the social patterns of their existence; the institutional patterns of their actions; and the intellectual pattern of their thoughts.

4. According to Robert Harris Jr, there have been four stages in the development of Africana studies: from the 1890s until World War II numerous organizations developed to analyze the culture and history of African peoples (African Studies). In the second stage the focus turned to Black Americans (Afro-American Studies). In the third stage a bevy of newly conceived academic programs were established as Black Studies. Unlike the other stages, Black Studies grew out of mass rebellions of black college students and faculty in search of a scholarship of change. In the fourth stage, the new name “Africana Studies” involved a theoretical elaboration of the discipline of Black Studies according to African cultural reclamation and disparate tenets in the historical and cultural issues of Africanity within a professorial interpretation of the interactions between these fields and college administrations (see Robert L. Harris Jr, “The Intellectual and Institutional Development of Africana Studies,” in The Black Studies Reader, pp. 15–20, eds. Jacqueline Bobo, Cynthia Hudley, Claudine Michel Page). Shortly after African American Studies began to occupy space within the academy, a number of conferences and symposiums were held to debate the viability and necessity for the field. See, especially, Armistead L. Robinson, Craig H. Foster, and Donald I. Ogilvie, Black Studies in the University: A Symposium (New York: Bantam Books, 1969), John Blassingame, New Perspectives on Black Studies (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1973); Bayard Rustin, Black Studies: Myths or Realities (New York: A. Philip Randolph Educational Fund, 1969); and Inez Smith Reid, “An Analysis of Black Studies Programs,” Afro-American Studies I (pp. 11–21, 1970). The classic work of this period, of course, is Nick Aaron Ford, Black Studies: Threat or Challenge (Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1973); and Nathaniel Norment, Jr.’s, The African American Studies Reader. Durham: Carolina Academic Press (2001/2007); Jeffrey L. Woodyard, “Evolution of a Discipline: Intellectual Antecedents of African American Studies,” Journal of Black Studies 22, no. 2 (December 1991): 239–51; Alan Colon, “Reflections on the History of Black Studies,” The Journal of African American History 93, no. 2 (2008): 271.

5. See Abdul Alkalimat’s (1986) Introduction to Afro-American Studies: A People’s College Primer; Talmadge Anderson’s (1998) An Introduction to African American Studies; Maulana Karenga’s (2003) Introduction to Black Studies; Talmadge Anderson and James Stewart’s (2008) Introduction to African American Studies; and Jeanette Davidson’s (2010) African American Studies.

6. Textbooks about the African American experience are an important learning resource. They consequently serve as an important learning aid for learners and as a consultative tool for teachers. African American Studies textbooks can provide learners with interesting new facts and information. Teachers can refer to textbooks as part of their lesson plans and prescribe homework from textbooks.

7. There are now approximately thirty anthologies of Black Studies beginning in 1969 with Black Studies: Myths and Realities with an Introduction by Bayard Rustin and 1971 with John Blassingame’s New Perspectives on Black Studies to the 2007 Contemporary Africana Thought and Action: A Guide to Africana Studies edited by Clenora Hudson-Weems and the 2009 African Americans and Community Engagement in Higher Education: Community Service, Service Learning, and Community-Based Research edited by Stephanie Y. Evans, Colette Taylor, Michelle Dunlap, and DeMond Miller.

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A Note to the Reader

African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions defines bodies of knowledge, methodologies, philosophies, and disciplinary concepts; its contents, its scope, and the types of topics with which its scholars have concerned themselves; and the growth, development, and present status of the discipline. Its purpose is to prove that African American Studies is a unique and significant discipline—one that intersects almost every academic discipline and cultural construct—and to confirm that the discipline has a noteworthy history and a challenging future. Thus, this text represents a discipline committed to producing and disseminating knowledge about African Americans. This text includes the contents of knowledge necessary for African American Studies in the 21st century.1 The true value of this volume will become most clear to students when they venture on to more specialized courses within and outside the discipline. At another level, this textbook answers a question asked by hundreds of college students: “African American Studies—what is that?” The author hopes that some of the excitement which pervades the study of African American history and culture, and which attracted students to the discipline, will transform and empower students who read this textbook.

The introductory course2 within Africana Studies on the undergraduate and graduate levels must provide the foundation in the discipline.3 The intellectual history of the field and introduction to various worldviews found in African societies across the world must provide that foundation. Most African American Studies programs across the country have diverse definitions and missions. Some of the programs focus squarely on a completely historical approach; while essential, they ignore the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary focus of African American Studies. Many scholars in the discipline focus on history, sociology, psychology, or literature as the foundation. While the various modes of inquiry these traditional disciplines employ are important to understand, they should all be components of a much more expansive interdisciplinary introductory course which absorbs the Africana and African American personality or experience. This volume is an exposition of the bodies of knowledge4 within African American Studies. African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions can be used in ← xxv | xxvi → high school and undergraduate and graduate introductory courses along with The African American Studies Reader (Norment, 2007).

African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions is a comprehensive resource book that recounts the development of the discipline of African American Studies and provides a basic reference source for sixteen areas of knowledge of the discipline: anthropology, art, dance, education, film, literature, psychology, sociology, philosophy, political science, economics, history, music, science and technology, sports, and religion. African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions defines bodies of knowledge, methodologies, philosophies, disciplinary concepts, its contents, its scope, topics its scholars have concerned themselves, and the growth, development, and present status of the discipline. African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions validates that African American Studies is a unique and significant discipline—one that intersects almost every academic discipline and cultural construct—and to confirm that the discipline has a noteworthy history and a challenging future. The various bodies of knowledge, the philosophical framework, methodological procedures, and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline have never been clearly delineated from an African-centered perspective.

The creation of the first Ph.D. program in African American Studies at Temple University in 1988 validated the specificity of a unique way of studying and interpreting the African mind, personality, and culture unencumbered by the limitations of the European worldview. African American Studies contests the ways in which Eurocentric discourse conceived of the possibilities of knowledge. African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions is an attempt at the subconscious resurrection of the variability of knowledge taught and embraced by the ancient Kemetic mystery school. In many ways, it is the 6000-year-old resurrection of the truth of that Ancient Egyptian system.

Notes

1. See Floyd W. Hayes, III, “Taking Stock: African American Studies at the Edge of the Twenty-First Century,” Western Journal of Black Studies 18, no. 3 (June 1994): 153–63 and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “African American Studies in the 21st Century,” The Black Scholar; Special Issues of the International Journal of African Studies, editor Marilyn Thomas–Houston, “Sustaining Black Studies in the 21st Century,” 14, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2008).

2. One of the most challenging teaching tasks in African American Studies is providing effective instruction in introductory-level courses.

3. The foundational concepts of the discipline must be grasped by all majors prior to entry into advanced courses. Introductory courses provide significant understanding of the underlying structure of the discipline.

4. See Note 2.

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Acknowledgments

African American scholars in our discipline owe much to the work of our intellectual predecessors and colleagues. I recognize and cite their contributions in my text and endnotes, but I have undoubtedly omitted some intellectual reference and credits over the long process of writing this textbook.1 Let me express my sincere gratitude to those scholars and sources whose works have contributed to this book. In preparing African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions, I have benefited from the work of many scholars in the various subject areas of the discipline. This book could not have been completed without the help and support of my colleagues, my students, and my family. Many of my colleagues, graduate and undergraduate students, and valued friends have given their enthusiastic support and sound advice throughout the development of this textbook. I am grateful to the many faculty and students who have written to me to offer suggestions that greatly improved this book. Thank you and I hope that you can see your contributions.

I also wish to thank the following colleagues who have reviewed some or all of this manuscript and for their suggestions that greatly improved this book: Russell Adams and Greg Carr (Howard University), Karanja Carroll (SUNY New Paltz), Daniel Black (Clark Atlanta University), Mario Beatty (Howard University), Dana King (Philadelphia School District), Jerome Brooks (The City College of CUNY), Aimee Glocke (University of California-Northridge), Terry Kershaw (University of Cincinnati), Abu Abarry, Wilbur Jenkins, Harrison Ridley, Frank Johnson, and Sonja Peterson-Lewis (Temple University), Amy Yeboah (Howard University), Eric Edi (Knox College), Valethia Watkins (Howard University), William Little (California State University-Dominguez Hills), David Norment (PS 140-New York City Public Schools), Raena Osizwe Harwell (Georgia State University), Cher McAllister (University of Nebraska-Omaha), Josh Myers (Howard University), Patrick Spearman (Youngstown State University), Samuel Livingston (Morehouse College), Andrew Rosa (Oklahoma State University), Andre Key (Paine College) and my students at Temple University: Nate Thompson, Jason Neuenschwander, Danielle Wallace, Damien Frierson, Nashay Pendleton, Danielle Ayers, Tanay Harris, ← xxvii | xxviii → David Brown, Katrina S. Williams, Dana Oliver, Anyabwile Love, Heru Setepenra Heq-m-Ta, Daly Guilamo, Rhone Fraser, Ava Wilson, Satia Koroma, and Brian Jones.

Additionally, I would like to thank the many students of my AAS W1296 (Introduction to African American Studies), AAS 8001 (Prose Seminar in African American Studies), and AAS 9002 (Teaching African American Studies) classes at Temple University. Collectively, they provided commentary which was immensely helpful in making this a student-centered book. Furthermore, I could not have found many of the materials had it not been for the help of librarians at Temple University (Al Vara), The City College of New York, Fordham University, Hofstra University, Emory University, Howard University, New York University, Sharon Howard of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and Aslaku Berhanu of the Blockson Collection at Temple University.

I would also like to express my gratitude to the different Starbucks in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Buffalo, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Wayne, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Memphis, Myrtle Beach, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Savannah, San Francisco, Smyrna, and Washington, D. C. that provided “a table and music” when I needed a creative space and atmosphere; and to Gloria Basmajian for her assistance and friendship. A Special-Special Thanks to my family (Assata, David, Jessie, Joaquim, Michael, Moziah, Natalie, Rosemarie, Sanaya, Thais, and Toeanzar Norment) for giving me so much Joy and Love.

The following individuals2 contributed specific content or developed part of the following: Chapter One: The Discipline: Greg Carr, Daniel Black, Aimee Glocke, Karanja Carroll, Patrick Spearman, and Josh Myers; Chapter Two: African American History: Greg Carr, Wilbur Jenkins, David Norment, and Josh Myers; Chapter Three: African American Literature: Abu Abarry, Daniel Black, Aimee Glocke, and Josh Myers; Chapter Four: African American Anthropology: Frank Johnson, Katrina Williams, and Josh Myers; Chapter Five: African American Sociology: Danielle Wallace, Katrina Williams, Tanay Harris, and Heru Setepenra Heq-m-Ta; Chapter Six: African American Psychology: Karanja Carroll, Nashay Pendleton, Katrina Williams, and Tanay Harris; Chapter Seven: African American Religion: Tim Brown, Andre Key, Josh Myers, Katrina Williams, and Nate Thompson; Chapter Eight: African American Philosophy: Shelley Morris, Greg Carr, and Katrina Williams; Chapter Nine: African American Political Science: Kelley Harris, Andrew Kessler, and Katrina Williams; Chapter Ten: African American Economics: Andrew Kessler, and Katrina Williams; Chapter Eleven: African American Music: Nate Thompson, Harrison Ridley, Anyabwile Love, and David Norment; Chapter Twelve: African American Dance: Aimee Glocke and Carl Parish; Chapter Thirteen African American Art: Shelley Morris and Katrina Williams; Chapter Fourteen: African American Film: Eugene Haynes, Shelley Morris, Nasha Taylor, and John King; Chapter Fifteen: African American Education: Danielle Ayers, Raena Osizwe Harwell, David Norment, and Patrick Spearman; Chapter Sixteen: African American Science and Technology: David Norment, Richard Turner, and Katrina Williams; and Chapter Seventeen: African American Sports: Michael Norment and Nate Thompson.

The production of African American Studies:The Discipline and Its Dimensions was supervised by Jackie Pavlovic, Production Manager at Peter Lang Publishing, who made this volume what it is. Sincere thanks for her patience, professional expertise, and support. This is my third book published by Peter Lang. It is a privilege to be one of its many authors.

Finally, I assume all responsibility for any errors, mistakes, and omissions that may appear in African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions.

Nathaniel Norment, Jr.
Smyrna, Georgia
2019 ← xxviii | xxix →

Notes

1. Many published works of African American scholars have helped me in writing the contents of African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions. The bibliographies of each chapter represent the sources of data and information incorporated into the bodies of knowledge in this textbook.

2. Each person listed has provided information and support to me during the past fifteen years that I have been working to complete this book. Those who have helped complete this version are Brittany Battle, Amy Yeboah, Miciah Yehudah, Nate Thompson, Megan Malachi, Heru Setepenra Heq-m-Ta, and Josh Myers.

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PART ONE

African American Studies: The Discipline

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CHAPTER 1

Introduction to African American Studies

What you do for yourself depends on what you think of yourself. And what you think of yourself depends on what you know of yourself. And what you know of yourself depends on what you have been told.

—Ghanaian proverb

We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.

—Carter G. Woodson

Education is the medium by which a people are prepared for the creation of their own particular civilization and the advancement and glory of their own race.

—Marcus Garvey

One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

—W. E. B. Du Bois

It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.

—Barack Obama

If we as a people realized the greatness from which we came we would be less likely to disrespect ourselves.

—Marcus Garvey ← 3 | 4 →

Introduction

The intellectual heritage1 of African American Studies2 precedes its emergence on predominately White campuses in the late 1960s by some 150 years. African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions is truly inspired by the intellectual architects who laid the foundation3 and developed the bodies of knowledge4 in African American Studies. Scholars within the academy and community, such as George Washington Williams, Carter G. Woodson, W. E. B. Du Bois, Anna Julia Cooper, Arturo A. Schomburg, Oliver Cox, E. Franklin Frazier, Harold Cruse, Sterling Brown, John Henrik Clarke, and John Hope Franklin, to name but a few, provided the foundations and perspectives that helped shape African American Studies today. In the late 1960s and 1970s, the efforts of Nathan Hare, Charles V. Hamilton, Maulana Karenga, Harold Cruse, Jimmy Garrett, Sonia Sanchez, St. Clair Drake, Richard Long, Carlene Young, Askia M. Touré, Nick Aaron Ford, Herman Hudson, Wilfred Cartey, Ewart Guinier, Vivian Gordon, Sidney F. Walton, James Turner, Bertha Maxwell, and John Blassingame, among others, forced predominately White universities to recognize African American Studies as a distinctive and legitimate area of study and laid the foundation for it to develop as an academic discipline. In the 1980s and 1990s scholars like William Little, Molefi Asante, Nathan Huggins, Vivian Gordon, Abdul Alkalimat, Delores Aldridge, Ernest Allen, John Bracey, James Stewart, Darlene Clark Hine, Ronald Bailey, Manning Marable, Barbara Christian, Charshee McIntyre, Winston Van Horn, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. further contributed to the institutionalization of African American Studies in traditionally White colleges and universities.

African American Studies has developed as interdisciplinary,5 multidisciplinary,6 and transdisciplinary,7 thus producing an accurate history and description of African people, primarily those Africans in the United States. African American Studies is an investigation of Africana history and culture from the perspective of Africana people who are committed to using knowledge in order to change the conditions of Africana people and, by extension, the human condition. In a holistic fashion, Africana Studies utilizes lenses that are available to all of humanity for the investigation of the Africana experience, but does so through a unified approach grounded in the sociohistorical experience of Africana peoples. African American Studies organizes itself around bodies of knowledge such as: Africana history, Africana politics, Africana education, Africana psychology, Africana sociology, Africana economics, Africana technology, Africana science, Africana aesthetics, and Africana literature. Together these subject/content areas work in the creation of a holistic interpretation of Africana social reality.8

African American Studies is not just one field of study, but it is a multidiscipline incorporating bodies of knowledge contents,9 disciplinary concepts,10 discipline competencies,11 methodologies,12 and theories.13 However, some critics of the discipline argue that African American Studies has no distinctive subject matter and that it is merely a collection of traditional disciplines combined to deal with issues that have historically been the interest and specialization of White scholars.14 But, of course, this is not the case. Scholars in African American Studies differ from scholars in traditional disciplines who claim to represent African and African American people in their scholarship, but who fail in their approach, focus, purpose, relevancy, perspective, and dedication to represent the physical, psychological, mental, and spiritual liberation of African and African American people.15 ← 4 | 5 →

Providing an elemental idea of what has transpired within the past forty-five years in the discipline helps bring about a greater appreciation and understanding of the conception of African American Studies that now exists for most undergraduates. African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions provides a foundation for the discipline by presenting basic definitions and various approaches that have been used in studying disciplinary frames of reference in African American Studies. It defines the content areas, methodologies, philosophies, and concepts of the variegated dimensions of African American Studies, as well as sets providing useful scholarly information concerning the definitions, scope, and relevance of the discipline. To understand and know the history, purpose, knowledge contents, intellectual contributors, and methods or the disciplinary approaches used in the discipline, we must ask the following questions and provide necessary answers:

What is African American Studies?

What was the original purpose of African American Studies?

What is the intellectual genealogy of the discipline?

What nomenclature should be used for the discipline?

What are the practical uses of African American Studies?

What does it mean to be African Centered?

What is the role of the African Worldview in the discipline?

What should be the criteria for determining the academic standards and authenticity of African American Studies as a discipline?

Is there a need for the standardization of course content?

How can the discipline consistently develop scholars grounded in the African-centered approach to the study of African Americans?

What are the major steps in operationalizing the methods, methodology, standards, and procedures of African American studies?

What is Africana Women’s Studies? Should it be incorporated within African American Studies or should it function as a separate field of study?

What is Black, Gay and Lesbian Studies? Should it be incorporated within African American Studies or should it function as a separate field of study?

What is Hip-Hop Studies? Should it be incorporated within African American Studies or should it function as a separate field of study?

What is Critical Black Studies? Should it be incorporated within African American Studies or should it function as a separate field of study?

What are the promises of African American Studies with regard to identifying and solving the cultural, educational, ethical, political, and social issues impacting African Americans? ← 5 | 6 →

What are the intersecting sociopolitical variables of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation in African American Studies?

What is the relationship between African American Studies and the expanding role of science and technology?

What are the global dimensions of African American Studies as it relates to Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the rest of the African Diaspora?

What should be the responsibility and relationship of African American Studies with the African American community outside of the university?

Who are the current scholars developing the discipline of African American Studies?

What is the future of African American Studies?

We need to determine if these are the right questions to ask after more than forty-five years of developing the discipline of African American Studies. Should the discipline require a common answer to each of these questions? For the discipline to be relevant and responsible to African American communities, we need to formulate new questions that will produce answers that change the life circumstances and life situations for African people.

The Development of African American Studies16

African American Studies or the study of Black people in the United States has existed since the early 1800s.17 Ample evidence of this is to be found in any perfunctory review of the monumental scholarly works of distinguished Black people such as William Wells Brown, David Walker, Henry Highland Garnet, Martin Delany, Edward Wilmot Blyden, Frederick Douglass, David Ruggles, Charlotte Forten, Maria Stewart, and George Washington Williams, among others. Much of what early Black scholars produced remained obscured, however, until the struggles of Blacks for improved and meaningful higher education were better planned and organized. The earliest efforts for Black courses occurred in Northern White colleges and on the campuses of Black schools. The more impressive demands of Black students to establish Black educational offerings on White campuses came later.18

African American Studies has increased awareness of the contributions of African Americans to world civilization. African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions not only demonstrates the importance, scope, and relevance of the discipline but also presents the intellectual contributions that preceded African American Studies as a discipline on predominately White campuses in the late 1960s. Scholars, within the academy and throughout the community, have laid the foundation for the discipline of Black Studies today.19

Egyptian Mystery System in Kmt

Scholars within the discipline of Black Studies do not all agree on when and where the intellectual foundation of Black Studies first began. Scholars such as Mario Beatty, Greg Carr, Jacob Carruthers, Yosef ben Johanan, John Henrik Clarke, Linda James Myers, Asa Hilliard, Maulana Karenga, and Daudi Ajani ya Azibo argue that the foundations of Black Studies date further back than African people’s arrival in America, and the foundation for the discipline can actually be found in Ancient Egypt or Kmt. More specifically, these scholars argue that the first true Black Studies curriculum can be found in the all-Black educational system of the Egyptian Mystery System.20 These scholars believe that the Egyptian Mystery not only should be our blueprint for curriculum, but can also help aid in the overall organization of the discipline. ← 6 | 7 →

Pre-1900 Foundations

One of the major pre-1900 foundations for Black Studies can be seen in the organization of the American Negro Academy, established in 1897 by such members as Alexander Crummell and W. E. B. Du Bois. In addition, Edward Wilmot Blyden, Henry Highland Garnet, George Washington Williams, Martin Delany, and William Wells Brown contributed to African American history and scholarship. All of these scholars went on to make large and substantial contributions to the foundations of the discipline, demonstrating their innate Pan-African ties and their emphasis on the Diaspora.

1897–1907: Black Studies in the U.S. Department of Labor21

The emergence of Black Studies as a discipline in the 1960s was not without historical roots, as is often portrayed. Black Studies owes much to Du Bois, as he developed a great deal of the methodology for research to build a paradigm for Black Studies research. In the early 1900s, Dubois noted that “not a single first-grade college in America undertook to give any considerable scientific attention to the American Negro.” Yet between 1897 and 1903, the Department of Labor, forerunner of the present Bureau of Labor Statistics, published nine investigations, of varying length, importance, and point of view, about the condition of Blacks in America. Du Bois himself prepared three of these studies. These Department of Labor studies were closely related to the historically more famous Atlanta University publications. The first and the last departmental investigations were done by Atlanta University. Both the Atlanta and the Department of Labor investigations were among pioneering “scientific” studies of the condition of Blacks in America. The researchers of Black Studies at the Department of Labor were Carroll D. Wright, the distinguished Commissioner of Labor from 1885 to 1905; George G. Bradford, a forgotten pioneer of both the Atlanta University and Department of Labor studies; and W. E. B. Du Bois.22

1900–1930: The Intellectual Foundations

African American Studies originally appeared as an academic field of study in the early 1900s,23 as a result of the pioneering efforts and works of W. E. B. Du Bois, Sterling Brown, Alain Leroy Locke, Arthur A. Schomburg, Lorenzo J. Greene, Abram Harris, Charles S. Johnson, Charles H. Wesley, E. Franklin Frazier, Ralph J. Bunche, Anna J. Cooper, and Carter G. Woodson. Shortly after his arrival at Atlanta University, Du Bois initiated an eleven-volume monograph series (as an extension of his 1899 landmark study The Philadelphia Negro) entitled the Atlanta University Studies, which sought to present an accurate portrayal of post-Reconstruction life in communities of these people of African descent in the South. Shortly after entering the United States in 1885, Schomburg began what would be a lifelong mission to “fill in the missing pages of world history.”24 As an extension of Schomburg’s early efforts to found the Negro Society for Historical Research, Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 for the purpose of ensuring that the history of African people would no longer be omitted from the world’s historical record. Moreover, Woodson also established the first academic organization of African American Studies in 1916 with the inauguration of The Journal of Negro History.25 The Harlem Renaissance, Harlem Book Club, and other historical organizations were important during this period.

1930–1955: Early Development on Black and White Campuses

In the mid-1930s, as a direct result of the efforts of Woodson, the Association, and Du Bois, a number of historically Black colleges and universities (e.g., Howard, Wilberforce, Atlanta, Morgan State, and Fisk Universities, as well as Tuskegee Institute) began to offer courses dealing with the history and culture of Black people in America. In 1922, William Hansberry instituted African Studies at Howard University. It is worth noting that also in the late 1930s and early 1940s a Pan-African perspective was taught at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Fisk University also began an African Studies program in ← 7 | 8 → early 1940 and Lincoln University instituted its program in 1950. In the 1940s and 1950s, some predominantly White universities (e.g., Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and the University of Minnesota) offered courses in the study of “Negro life and culture.” It has also been reported that, in the mid-1930s, Black Studies curricula were in place in many Southern Negro schools through courses in Black history and culture. In addition, public high schools in New York, Philadelphia, Georgia, Texas, and Oklahoma also taught courses in Black history.26

1955–1970: Social and Political Influences

Prior to the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v. Topeka Board of Education,27 Black students were routinely denied admission to most White colleges and universities in the North and to all White colleges and universities in the South. As a direct result of the sense of social responsibility which permeated the Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Student movements, predominantly White institutions of higher education began to actively recruit and admit “qualified” African American students and faculty. Urban universities in predominately Black communities were confronted with the additional responsibility of admitting students from the immediate vicinity who did not always meet admissions criteria. The call for Black Studies arose out of the particular sense of discontent and dismay that the majority of first-generation Black students28 on traditionally White campuses felt both inside and outside the classroom. Their frustration, combined with the increased sociopolitical awareness taking place within the Black community in the form of Black Power and Black Consciousness movements,29 galvanized Black students who began demanding separate curricula, courses, and programs representing the historical and contemporary life experiences of people of African descent in the United States. They also advocated for the hiring of Black faculty and mentors, as well as pushing for universities to open their facilities and provide institutional resources for the Black community.30

The formal start of the Black Arts Movement is dated as 1965 with the establishment of the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School (BARTS)31 by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and other Black artists, writers, poets, and playwrights; it began establishing the politicocultural framework that would coalesce into the Black Arts movement.32 “In 1960, On Guard for Freedom, a black (inter)nationalist literary organization was founded by Calvin Hicks, and included Harold Cruse, Amiri Baraka (then LeRoi Jones), Tom Dent, Nannie and Walter Bowe, and Rosa Guy, among others. From On Guard, in 1962, evolved Umbra, an organization spearheaded by Dent, James Johnson, Calvin Hernton, Ishmael Reed, Archie Shepp, Lorenzo Thomas, and Askia Muhammad Touré to name a few. Umbra produced the journal Umbra Magazine, and was the first post-Civil Rights artistic and literary group led by Blacks to define and make distinct their own voice from that of the prevailing white literary establishment.”33 “The merging of a Black nationalist—themed activist thrust with a (primarily) artistic orientation caused a split in the organization, after which a number of former members, including Touré, Yusef Ruhman, and Keorapetse ‘Willie’ Kgositisle, formed the Uptown Writers Movement. They later joined forces with Baraka and BARTS. Important to note, however, is that while much of the focus on Black Arts has historically been centered or confined to New York, it was a movement that was nationwide, with points of confluence in Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans and San Francisco, where the work of Sonia Sanchez, Ed Bullins, Baraka, Askia M. Touré, Marvin X (Marvin Jackmon), Jimmy Garrett, and Nathan Hare led to the establishment of the first African American Studies Department in 1968.”34

Nathan Hare, chairman of the first African American Studies Department at San Francisco State College, asserted that all Black Studies curriculum could be divided into two basic phases: the expressive and the pragmatic-positivistic. (1) The expressive phase would be therapeutic and would focus on courses in the history and culture of African Americans. (2) The pragmatic-positivistic phase would focus on praxis and provide students with research skills to bring about change in their lives and ← 8 | 9 → communities.35 John Blassingame elaborated on the prospect of expressive and pragmatic-positivistic phases, suggesting that “community action programs must be separated from academic programs and adequately funded, staffed, and truly related to community needs.”36 This disagreement has produced a dichotomy between the content, theory, and pedagogy in African American Studies. Some scholars argued that many departments and programs “missed the mark” in their emphasis and coverage of the history and culture of African Americans, and the de-emphasis of skills and techniques needed to combat oppression within African American communities.37

Emergence of Black Studies at Merritt College with Sidney Walton, Jr.38

Walton (1969) presents a documentary case study of the emergence of the first Black Studies program developed at Merritt College in Oakland, California, in 1967. Although some schools included courses on African and African American people prior to this, the first Black Studies program was established at San Francisco State College in 1968. The establishment of the first department of Black Studies occurred under the duress of a student strike. At San Francisco State, 80% of the racially and ethnically diverse student body joined forces and “made or supported unequivocal demands.”39 Similar strikes occurred at Howard (March 1968), Northwestern (May 1968), The City College of New York (April 1968), Cornell (April 1969), and Harvard (April 1969). San Francisco State responded to the demands with the appointment of Nathan Hare as the acting chair of the Department of Black Studies in 1969. Other universities followed this course, with James Turner at Cornell (1969), Andrew Billingsley at Berkeley (1969), Ronald Foreman at the University of Florida (1970), Carlene Young at San Jose State University (1970), Herman Hudson at Indiana (1970), and Richard Long at Emory University (1970). From 1968 to 1971, hundreds of African American Studies departments and programs were developed. Approximately 500 colleges and universities provided full-scale African American Studies programs by 1971. As many as 1,300 institutions offered at least one course in African American Studies as of 1974. Some estimates place the number of African American Studies programs reaching its peak at 800 in the early 1970s and declining to about 375, due to the lack of resources and support, by the mid-1990s.40 It should be acknowledged that in 1968, Dr. Wilfred Cartey was hired by the English department at The City College of New York (CCNY) to develop a Ph.D. Program and an Institute in Black Studies.

1970–1985: Questions, Crisis, and Criticism41

Beginning in the 1970s, Black Studies courses, programs, and departments faced intense and heightened criticism from a variety of fronts. Individuals such as Kenneth Clark, Martin Kilson, Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, Eugene Genovese, and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. were among those who questioned the validity of such endeavors, arguing against the creation of Black Studies as an intellectually separate and autonomous field of study.42 Black Studies also suffered a decline in commitment and a withdrawal of support from most predominantly White colleges and universities, as well as a backlash from historically Black institutions.43

Two divergent political–ideological perspectives helped shape the goals and direction of African American Studies. One ideological perspective was a politically moderate or liberal group comprised of African American faculty members from traditional academic disciplines.44 These scholars were opposed to the establishment of a completely autonomous department and advocated a departmental structure controlled by existing traditional disciplines. These African American professionals, secure in their positions, taught courses treating the African American experience within the framework of their own traditional academic disciplines. They believed that African American Studies should be relevant to both African Americans and the university by providing a distinctive and rigorous education that would effectively prepare students to become productive members of society. Martin Kilson, one scholar who supported this approach, argued that “no interdisciplinary subject like Black Studies can evolve into a scholarly and intellectually viable field without the curricular control of an established discipline.” He ← 9 | 10 → further contended that students who majored in Black Studies should be tracked through an established discipline to ensure that the student would be prepared for future graduate studies.45

The second ideological perspective was a radical Black Nationalist group comprised of African American student organizations, like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC),46 and faculty members, many of whom, upon arrival at predominantly White colleges and universities, were dissatisfied with the traditional discipline’s approaches to investigating and examining the African American experience.47 It was this dissatisfaction that fueled their struggle to create a new and invigorating approach to learning about the African American experience.

The initial differences between these two political–ideological perspectives were mainly because of their different backgrounds and their relationship to the university leading to various debates concerning the goals and objectives of African American Studies. While the politically moderate or liberal group, in many ways, accepted the status quo at the university, the radical Black Nationalist group pushed for progressive changes in the arena of higher education. Radical Black Nationalist scholars and students advocated that African American Studies should be relevant to both African American college students and African American communities.48 They also challenged the status quo and argued for a pedagogical approach that linked theory and practice in order to alleviate the social problems that existed in the Black community.49 Similar to the approach instituted during the 1965–1966 protests and demonstrations, many of these scholars advocated for a race-specific ideology toward education.50

During this formative period, the efforts of Toni Cade Bambara, Angela Davis, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Gloria Joseph, Michelle Wallace, Bertha Maxwell, Charshee McIntyle, Barbara Wheeler, Vivian Gordon, Delores P. Aldridge, Gloria Hull, Barbara Smith, Sonia Sanchez, Patricia Bell Scott, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Patricia Hill Collins, and bell hooks brought issues of race, sex, gender, class, and sexual orientation which concerned the Black Women’s movement51 to the forefront of discussion in Black Studies. Later, the emergence of Black Women’s Studies52 as an academic discipline generated a dialogue within African American Studies that resulted in challenging the existing epistemologies53 that did not incorporate the significant presence and contributions of African American women in the discipline. African American Women’s Studies also began to assert itself simultaneously inside and outside of African American Studies. Research and writing by Black women which had been previously rejected and neglected began to appear more frequently and prominently.54

1985–2005: Institutionalization

The 1980s marked a period of formal standardization and institutionalization of African American Studies, highlighted by the 1981 release of the National Council of Black Studies (NCBS) Core Curriculum55 and the 1985 publication of the Afro-American Studies: A Report to the Ford Foundation56 by the late Nathan I. Huggins. Commissioned by the Ford Foundation, Nathan I. Huggins, a Harvard professor, conducted a research survey on the current status of African American Studies on American campuses, addressing its early experience in the academy and future needs. “He described the efforts to gain a place for Black Studies in the post-secondary curriculum as part of a broader movement to integrate Black students and faculty into a traditionally White educational system. He recommended that more sophisticated methodologies be brought to bear on the study of black issues and for the expansion of Black Studies into conventional disciplines. Furthermore, he concluded that three basic concerns lay behind the demand for African American Studies: (1) the political need for space; (2) the psychological need for identity; and (3) the academic need for recognition.”57

In 1988, the first doctoral program58 in African American Studies was developed and implemented at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since the 1990s, ten new doctoral programs59 have been created at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard University, Michigan State (2004), Northwestern University (2006), University of Illinois, Indiana University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2008), University of Pennsylvania (2009), ← 10 | 11 → University of Michigan (2011), Yale University (2010), and the University of Texas (2012). In addition, there has been resurgence in the debate about the content, scope, and, most importantly, the direction African American Studies will take in the 21st century.60 Central to the contemporary questions facing African American Studies are issues surrounding academic excellence and community responsibility: will Black Studies continue to take part in the careerist culture of the academy or will it reflect on its original vision, retool its mission, and reshape its direction to honor the past?

African American Studies has been primarily involved in developing itself as an academic discipline, providing a historically accurate narrative and interpretation of African American culture, as well as enriching the “traditional” fields of study in American colleges and universities. But, during its tenure as an academic discipline, African American Studies has had an important impact on the intellectual, political, and cultural environment of higher education over the past forty-five years. Controversial courses in the African American Gay and Lesbian experience,61 Hip-Hop in Black Culture, The Black Male, and Africana Women’s Studies have been offered as part of the curriculum of several leading Black Studies departments.

Forty-Five Years of African American Studies: 1969–201662

Over the past forty-five plus years, the institutionalization of African American Studies has resulted, in some cases, in the disassociation of African American intellectuals (faculty and students) from the African American community. This situation can be changed if African American intellectuals fulfill the original mission, scope, and purpose of African American Studies. We must be concerned that several generations of young people have missed access to the knowledge available through African American Studies because of the decline in the number of African American Studies programs and decreased public interest.63 The discipline must become an active agent and participant in educating, organizing, and empowering Black children, families, and communities to improve their lives and their life chances. African American Studies must refocus and redirect itself, forcing those of us in the discipline to continue to ask provocative questions.

As we celebrated the historic occasion of the 40th anniversary of the formalized institutionalization of Africana Studies in universities across America and the African world, it remains imperative that we continue to (1) produce work informed by the expansive genealogy of African-centered thinkers prior to 1968–1970 and (2) synthesize critical scholarship created in the discipline over the last forty-five years.64 Thus, building a strong discipline is contingent upon forming a connection to the past that is not simply rooted in nostalgic hero worship, but also in developing pragmatic approaches to solving problems in the global African community. Further, the paradigms giving rise to African American Studies must also adhere to a framework that allows the merger of theory and praxis. The discipline’s survival depends on its ability to operationalize an African-centered view of the theories, methodologies, and practices that arise from the work of scholars who identify themselves as the intellectual contributors of the discipline going forward. We must seek to (re)create the intellectual conversations that took place at the discipline’s founding in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as much of the work since that time has failed to meet the standards that the “Founding Fathers” sought to establish. Many ideas as to the purpose and direction of the nascent discipline were presented at conferences such as: Howard University’s “Toward a Black University”; Cornell’s Africana Studies and Research Center; The Institute of the Black World; and the Yale University Symposium.65 After a forty-five year presence in predominantly White universities, major questions still surround the intellectual integrity and level of scholarship of the work produced within Black Studies. In addition, there still remains continued controversy in regards to the political nature and mission of African American Studies. The underlying consensus among scholars is that African American Studies within the academy has fallen short in (1) fostering academic excellence, (2) cultural awareness, and (3) community involvement as outlined by the disciplinary founders.66 While there are challenges on the one hand, scholars and junior scholars67 ← 11 | 12 → have emerged within the discipline to reawaken the conversations about paradigm, theory, methodology, intellectual genealogy, and the community work of the discipline.

There is a long tradition of lay scholars who have operated outside of the academy, chief among them being David Walker, William Wells Brown, Martin R. Delany, John E. Bruce, William H. Ferris, Drusilla Dunjee Houston, Willis Nathaniel Huggins, John G. Jackson, Arturo Schomburg, J. A. Rogers, Hubert Harrison, and John Henrik Clarke.68 African American Studies in the future years69 must continue to utilize the works of scholars in the tradition of those who were trained in both the academy and the streets. The stability of an effective disciplinary Africana Studies must continue to tap into the ways in which these pioneers provided the intellectual standard for scholarship on the study of African peoples.

What Is African American Studies?70

African American Studies is both ancient and modern, extending from historical foundations to Classical Africa,71 while focusing on the experiences of Africans in America. The study of Africans’ culture and history had its origins in Kemet and other African civilizations.72 We use the benchmark for the origins of modern African American Studies with W. E. B. Du Bois’ Atlanta University Studies at the turn of the century (1896–1910)73 and with the establishment of the first Black Studies department at San Francisco State in 1969.74 Attempts to define a discipline, such as African American Studies, allow for a wide variety of points of view because scholars working in the discipline tend to have very differing ideas and definitions of “what is” African American Studies. Nevertheless, “there is a need to redefine the limits of the discipline and to communicate the history, structure, function, content, philosophy and method of the field of study. African American Studies is an academic discipline that seeks to investigate phenomena and interrogate issues of the world from an African Centered perspective. The results should be transposed into communally relevant data which will ultimately empower the African community physically, psychological and spiritually.”75

African American Studies/Black Studies is multidisciplinary.76 It employs multiple theoretical and methodological approaches from a variety of disciplines to introduce students to history, literature, cinema, religion, the arts, and the social sciences while examining the dynamics of race, class, gender, sexuality, culture, politics, and economics. Its focus is on the life, culture, and social organization of persons of African descent in Africa, North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean—anywhere peoples of the African Diaspora find themselves.

African American Studies incorporates bodies of knowledge reflecting global experiences of African peoples, specifically Africans in the United States, and their participation in and contribution to the evolution, development, and civilization of mankind. It is interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary/transdisciplinary, encompassing a broad-based approach to the Africana experience within the context of human evolutionary development, history, race, ethnicity, and politicoeconomic interrelationships. African American Studies is a unique and significant discipline that intersects and interrogates almost every traditional academic discipline and cultural construct(s). The scholarship and teaching of Black Studies emanates from a set of distinct principles that are based on the interconnectedness of African and African Diaspora peoples’77 diverse experiences. Scholarship and teaching in Black Studies involves the interdisciplinary creation and dissemination of knowledge about peoples of African descent from a perspective that recognizes their humanity. All of this resuscitates the vision of African American Studies and culminates in a working (i.e., operational) definition of African American/Black Studies. Therefore,

The present working definition of Black Studies is a multi-disciplinary body of knowledge and experience about the struggle of people of African descent … Black Studies is for all students, Black, White and others. Its role is to research distortions in various disciplines, investigate the norms and values of the university, examine the disciplines and their omissions, bring the Black perspective to each discipline, ← 12 | 13 → monitor the offerings of each for racism, produce models of service of the Black community and Black students through direct action, test these models, disseminate information about Black culture, sponsor activities about Black culture, develop research skills in students and provide additional student support systems.78

African American Studies interrogates the methods, paradigms, and assumptions of the various disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, arts, and natural sciences not only as a corrective, but also as an independent discipline that produces its own body of knowledge, methods, and theories. The African American experience is uniquely explained through these various disciplines. This distinguishes Black Studies from an interest in Black issues based on traditional disciplinary paradigms, which often marginalize,79 minimize, or neglect Black people and lack a component of advocacy for social change. The African American Studies curriculum80 offers academic training in various interdisciplinary approaches, methods, interpretations, ethics, philosophies, and ideologies.81 There is no one definition on which the different schools of thought agree. In Introduction to Black Studies, Maulana Karenga defines Black Studies as “the systematic and critical study of the multidimensional aspects of Black thought and practice in their current and historical unfolding. It is a critical study in that it is characterized by careful analysis and considered judgment. And it is systematic in that it is structured and methodical in its pursuit and presentation of knowledge.”82

Karenga’s contribution is grounded in his long-standing Black cultural nationalist theory of Kawaida, which seeks to encompass all aspects of the Black experience. As he states:

The scope of Black Studies as a discipline is the totality of historical and current Black thought and practice, but expresses itself most definitively in seven core subject areas: (1) Black History, (2) Black Religion, (3) Black Social Organization, (4) Black Politics, (5) Black Economics, (6) Black Creative Production (Black Art, Black Music and Black Literature), and (7) Black Psychology. As an interdisciplinary discipline concerned with the coherence and unity of its subject area, Black Studies, of necessity, has core integrative principles and assumptions that serve as thematic glue which holds together these core subject areas.83

Vivian Gordon views Black Studies as “an analysis of the factors and conditions which have affected the economic, psychological, legal and moral status of the African in America as well as the African in Diaspora. Not only is Black Studies concerned with the culture of the Afro-American ethnic as historically and sociologically defined by the traditional literature, it is concerned with the development of new approaches to the study of the Black experience and with the development of social policies which will impact positively upon the lives of Black people.”84 As evident in the previous examples, the primary objective and focus of Black Studies is African and African American people. Philip T. K. Daniels argues his concept of Black Studies as a “multidiscipline” that systematically focuses upon the experiences of Black people throughout the world. It is the study of Africa and the African Diaspora simultaneously assessing the outer struggle of Blacks against oppression, discrimination, imperialism, racism, and other pejorative forces, while also looking at their inner struggle to establish community, identity, heritage, functional, as well as a practical and protective institutional infrastructure.85 Manning Marable writes that:

African American Studies is essentially at its core the black intellectual tradition, the richly diverse body of interdisciplinary scholarly research and creative works by people of African descent. This classical intellectual tradition has historically been defined by three points of departure. Black Studies is “descriptive”—that is, it attempts to provide a detailed, “thick description” of the cultural materiality of black people’s lives. It starts with the central assumption that people of African descent have been the principal actors in the making of their own history. Black Studies has always been “corrective,” in the sense of challenging racist stereotypes and biased interpretations of black people in mainstream white academic institutions and within its pseudo-scholarship. And third, Black Studies is “prescriptive,” presenting theoretical and programmatic models designed to empower black people in the real world. By its very ← 13 | 14 → nature, it requires a “praxis”—the unity of critical analysis and social action, the production of new ideas, not merely designed to interpret the world, but change it.86

Definition87

In Introduction to Black Studies (2003), Karenga posited that:

Black Studies may be defined as an interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary field of study or discipline that systematically analyses the factors and conditions which have affected the economic, psychological, legal, and moral status of the African in America and the African in the Diaspora. Not only is Black Studies concerned with the past and present culture, characteristics, achievements, issues, and problems of African-descended people in a context that interacts relevantly with other peoples of the world, it is also concerned with the development of new approaches to the study of the Black experience and with the development of social policies which will impact positively upon the lives of Black people. Moreover, Black Studies, as both an investigative and applied discipline, poses the paradigm of theory and practice merging into active self-knowledge which leads to positive social change. It is a discipline dedicated not only to understanding self, society and the world, but also to changing them in a positive way in the interest of human history and advancement.88

A working definition would allow us to identify elements that should be included in the study of African Americans. Vivian Gordon’s (1981) concept of Black Studies is indicative and descriptive of the scope of African (or Afro-) American Studies. Academically, a discipline refers to a specific body of teachable knowledge with its own set of interrelated facts, concepts, standardized techniques, and skills. However, African American Studies draws upon and interacts significantly with traditional disciplines such as in the arts, humanities, and the social and behavioral sciences. In 1969, Jack L. Daniel wrote that:

Black Studies constitutes an attempt to understand the human experience using Black experience as both a focal point and a platform from which to view … Black studies is not a matter of empirical versus descriptive, historical, and intuitive, nor is Black Studies a matter of politics and economics versus culture and consciousness. Black Studies in this sense is not a matter of “versus,” and at a minimum Black Studies is concerned with the integration of these “approaches.” Similarly, Black Studies is concerned with the integration of the objective and the subjective, the material and the spiritual, or the visible and the invisible. … Black Studies is for all Human beings.89

Clearly then, since 1969, Black Studies has developed as an interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary intellectual project in the academy. Since knowledge and learning within a discipline flows out of the culture in which it is set, Black Studies emanates from an African ethos and worldview. Summing up this expansive approach to African American Studies, Donald Henderson suggested that:

The Department of African and Afro-American Studies must be truly inter-disciplinary and its members must be meta-disciplinarians. They must be academically and intellectually able to range across a variety of traditional areas with facility and sophistication. Obviously the selection of personnel will be a principal factor in the operation of such a department. The traditional and often arbitrary boundaries that divide sociology from history of philosophy from economics will not only be undesirable but dysfunctional in carrying out the mission of this department.90

Cedric X. Clark defines Black Studies as:

The research, practice, and teaching of a social science whose repertoire of concepts include as fundamental and essential these derived directly from the Black American cultural experience. Black Studies is a weltanschauung, an orientation, a way of viewing problems—particularly those problems related to the life of Black Americans.91

Maurice Jackson advocates this point of view when he defined the meaning and scope of Black Studies in the following manner: ← 14 | 15 →

Nomenclature93

Although one single definition of African American Studies may be useful, there has been—since its beginning—different nomenclatures for the discipline such as Negro Studies, African American Studies, African American Studies, Afro-American Studies, African Studies, Black Studies, Africana Studies, Pan-African Studies, and more recently Africology, as suggested by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, William Nelson, Winston Van Horne, Maulana Karenga, and Molefi K. Asante. The reader has undoubtedly noticed at this point that I use “African American Studies” and “Black Studies” interchangeably, even though Africana Studies is the more formal and proper terminology, while Black Studies is the more common usage. Professor John Henrik Clarke notes:

I prefer to use the phrase “Africana Studies” to “Black Studies.” Black is an honorable word, and I am glad to see so many people lose their fear of using it, but it has its limitations. Black, or Blackness, tells how you look without telling you who you are, whereas Africa, or Africana, relates you to land, history, and culture. No people are spiritually and culturally secure until it answers only to a name of its own choosing a name that instantaneously relates that people to the past, present and future.94

The present analysis suggests that the discipline can be properly called by any nomenclature95 that does not vitiate, deny, or preclude all or any part of what is connoted by the African Worldview, especially its cross-national/ethic/geopolitical character and its applicability to all manner of phenomena (not just African phenomena).96 Several terms are seen to be acceptable, including African World Studies, Pan African Studies, Black and Africana Studies. Perhaps the better term is the obvious one: African Worldview Studies. Terms that are more restrictive in scope and meaning, like African and Afro-American Studies, Afrology, and Africology,97 appear to be inadequate. Changes in the socioeconomic and political experiences of Blacks in America have, concomitantly, affected Black ideological perspective relative to preferred terms of racial identification.98 While “Black” connoted the universality of African peoples or the Diaspora of Blacks, “African American” may refer technically and academically to only persons of African descent who are natives or citizens of the United States or Latin America and is limiting and restrictive in concept. Abdul Alkalimat (1986) considers “Afro-American Studies” to cover the entire American hemisphere, including North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and even countries such as Greenland.99 The concept of “Black Studies” is more comprehensive and universally accepted in the study of peoples of African descent. There are multiple academic approaches that are currently being used by scholars to study African world peoples and societies. William Little (2005) developed the following working descriptions for each Academic Model.100

African Studies

African Studies is primary an area studies that examined African peoples and societies on the continent of Africa. It is a geography-based field that investigates African material, political, social, and cultural experiences in their relationship to Europe and the rest of the world. Those experiences range from the earliest human civilizations to enslavement, colonization, force migration, displacement, and the assault on African humanity and lifeways. ← 15 | 16 →

Africana Studies, African World Studies, Pan African Studies

The discipline is primary a peoples- and culture-based enterprise which investigates African people’s experiences. These experiences range from the earliest human civilizations to the tragic era of enslavement, colonization, forced migration, displacement, and reconstruction of African peoples humanity and lifeways. The discipline explores the subject area from the perspective of Africana people’s interests, aspirations, possibilities, and envisioned destinies. The foundation of Africana intellectual inquiry begins with an appreciation and understanding of African philosophy and worldview.

African American Studies, Afro-American Studies, Black Studies

African American Studies is primary a peoples- and culture-based area studies which investigates African peoples’ experience primarily in the United States. Those experiences range from the earliest human civilizations to the tragic era of enslavement, forced migration, and displacement and the assault on African humanity and lifeways. The discipline explores the subject area from the perspective of Africana people’s interests, aspirations, possibilities, and envisioned destinies. The foundation of Africana intellectual inquiry begins with an appreciation and understanding of African philosophy and worldview. African Diaspora Studies explores the subject area from the perspective of Africana people’s interests, aspirations, possibilities, and envisioned destinies. The foundation of Africana intellectual inquiry begins with an appreciation and understanding of African philosophy and worldview.

African Diaspora Studies

African Diaspora Studies is primarily a peoples- and culture-based area studies which investigates African peoples experience primarily in the Western Hemisphere, but may be expanded to include Europe and Asia as a subject of inquiry. Those experiences range from the tragic era of enslavement, forced migration and displacement, and the assault on African humanity. The discipline explores the subject area from the perspective of Africana people’s interests, aspirations, possibilities, and envisioned destinies. “The foundation of Africana intellectual inquiry begins with an appreciation and understanding of African philosophy and worldview. African Diaspora Studies explores the subject area from the perspective of Africana people’s interests, aspirations, possibilities, and envisioned destinies. The foundation of Africana intellectual inquiry begins with an appreciation and understanding of African philosophy and worldview.”101

Afro-Caribbean Studies

Afro-Caribbean Studies is primary a peoples- and culture-based area studies which investigates African peoples’ experience primarily in British West Indian territories, for example, Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad. Those experiences range from the tragic era of enslavement. The diversity of peoples in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Latinas in the United States requires an interdisciplinary curriculum that ranges from the humanities to the social sciences.

Afro-Latino Studies

Afro-Latino Studies is primary a people- and culture-based area studies which investigates African peoples’ experience primarily in Spanish and Portuguese territories, for example, Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Those experiences range from the tragic era of enslavement and areas of Latino Studies including, but not limited to, Chicana/o, Puerto Rican, and Cuban Studies.

Relevance102

It is difficult to conceive that the culture and experiences of Blacks are virtually excluded from the textbooks and curricula of the educational system, especially since people of African descent are an integral part of the history and development of America and the world. This omission has been and continues to ← 16 | 17 → be interpreted by African Americans as a conscious policy reflecting the ethnocentric proclivity of white people. The cursory and peripheral mention of Africans’ contribution toward the development of the United States has produced generations of miseducated white and Black students.103 Even today, there is little information in the textbooks and literature of the typical school or college curriculum that treats African American/Black history and culture as an integral, integrated, and “legitimate” part of American society. Consequently, Black or African American Studies programs often function as auxiliary academic units for the sole purpose of servicing or complementing the traditional disciplines in regard to the African experience. While some educators and social integrationists might view the establishing of Black Studies as a distinct and separate discipline as less than ideal, the question is, to what extent would the African’s contribution and experience be taught and learned if Black Studies did not exist?104

Rationale105

Indeed, Black Studies was founded as result of the American education system’s failure to fulfill its purpose and commitment to all citizens. Johnson (1969) submits that schools and colleges are committed to: (1) preserving traditions and heritage; (2) acknowledging the universality of education; (3) the equality of opportunity; and (4) liberation, that is, seeking to satisfy normative and psychological needs.106 Although the educational system substantially meets its commitment toward white students, at the same time it is significantly deficient in providing the same benefits for Blacks and other cultural and ethnic groups.107

It is debatable whether genuine educational access and opportunity exists for Blacks in the postsecondary, professional, and graduate fields.108 Universality of education further implies equality and respect for all races and cultures of the world. Neither Africa nor peoples of African descent are treated in the educational curricula on par with Europe and Europeans.109 Thus, by denying or ignoring the African experience and ethos, traditional disciplines fail to satisfy the normative and psychological needs of Blacks. The systematic subordination and exclusion of Blacks in the curricula negatively affects the psyche and personality of African Americans.110

Traditional American education fails to treat the Black or African American experience as an integral part of the broader society. The educational system through its textbooks, testing methods, and overall design maximizes the values and interests of the dominant white majority and the social and psychological disadvantage of Blacks and other cultural and ethnic groups.111 The effect has been that of consciously and unconsciously politicizing and socializing both Blacks and whites into accepting the myths of white supremacy and the inferiority of persons of African descent. If American education is ever to be a unifying and harmonizing force for its multicultural racial population, the traditional disciplines will have to modify their current structures and integrate or synthesize the African American experience into the academic curricula.112 Until this ideal becomes a reality, separate and distinct American cultural and racial studies, programs, and departments will continue to exist and will be demanded by those population groups whose experience, values, and interest have been excluded.

Consequently, the role of African American Studies as a discipline is to provide education that is consistent with the reality and truth of the Black experience and to study, research, and present those ideological values that might achieve the cultural, political, and economic betterment of Black people. Black Studies must also expose to the dominant white society in the United States the gulf between the ideals of the Constitution and the actual practice of human equality and social justice. More important than all of these is the task of evaluation, synthesizing, and elucidating a Black ideology in relation to other prevailing ideologies of the world.113

What Is the Purpose of African American Studies?114

The purpose of African American Studies is to provide the academic world with a new critical perspective115 regardless of cultural worldviews and resulting differences. Indeed, when Black scholars and ← 17 | 18 → students first called for the higher education to recognize and then, secondly, to accept the place of African American Studies as a discipline, they were not simply reacting to White racist intellectual traditions; they were suggesting that the inclusion of all voices in the shaping of American education would assure that we ultimately create a society where everyone gets the chance to speak and to listen. Russell L. Adams suggests that:

Since its institutional beginning, many perspectives on the purpose and function of African American Studies have been presented. According to Nathan Hare, “The main motivation of Black Studies is to entice Black students to greater involvement in the educational process. Black Studies is, above all, a pedagogical device.”117 Vivian Gordon states that “the curriculum of Black Studies must help the student develop his or her skills in the use of the tools which are important to both a critical analysis of interaction of the past and present and to the students’ future participation in the analyses of factors which affect the life of Black people in America.”118 Inez Reid suggests four purposes that assumed prominent roles in the debate over African American Studies: “(1) Black Studies Programs can fulfill a need for scholarly correction of historical and cultural myths; (2) Black Studies can provide potential elementary and secondary school teachers, destined to serve in black communities, with much more knowledge about [African American children]; (3) Black Studies can fulfill a psychological need on the part of black students; and (4) Black Studies can fulfill the need to begin the process of re-socialization and socialization of Americans destined to play roles in the United States” (in the 21st century).119 Harold Cruse views Black Studies to be an instrument of cultural nationalism specifically concerned with critiquing the integrationist ethic “and providing a counter-balance to the dominant Anglo-Saxon culture.”120 Others argued further that Black Studies should be able to develop and to facilitate racial awareness and pride among Black people. Many argued in the late 1960s and 1970s that Black Studies must be communally based, community controlled, and committed to be a vehicle for social change. These arguments are still relevant to the purposes of African American Studies after more than four decades; there is still an indisputable need for African American Studies today.

As in any academic, social, political or intellectual endeavor, there is no single purpose that drives African American Studies. “However, its main purposes should be: (1) to analyze, produce, investigate, and disseminate knowledge about African people; (2) to involve and incorporate the content, ideologies, and methodologies of African American Studies in all aspects of the community; (3) to prepare undergraduate and graduate students with knowledge, skills and paradigms to analyze critical factors which affect African people in America; (4) to identify issues and problems African Americans face; and (5) to provide leadership and solutions to resolve them.”121 Furthermore, James Stewart presents five significant results and contributions of the discipline: “(1) destruction of the myth of the passive acceptance of subjugation by Blacks; peoples of African descent have always attempted to shape their own destinies; (2) documentation of the critical role of collective self-help in laying the foundations for black progress; (3) restoration of the record of ancient and modern civilizations of Blacks in developing high technology and establishing early civilizations in North and South America; (4) exploration of the contemporary implications of psychic duality, building on Du Bois’s classic formulation of the concept ← 18 | 19 → of Afrocentric(ity) as a guiding principle; and (5) explication of the critical role played by Black women in shaping the Black experience.”122 LeRoi R. Ray, Jr. proposes that:

Black Studies should create a new conceptual framework for the content of history, literature, drama, journalism, social science, music, art and the hard sciences. It is not enough to append Black History onto the racist history that now exists. A completely new history must emerge from the research. More emphasis must be placed on economics and political science in order to help Black students attain justice equal access to positions of power and influence. A thorough investigation should be made of Black institutions and organizations to be knowledgeable of the full resources in the Black community. Black Studies must improve the attitude of the entire university by providing new information to white students and professors assisting them in recognizing, isolating, attacking and solving problems such as racism.123

In 1970, Charles Hamilton examined over 50 Black Studies proposals and programs, and summarized Black Studies as having six functions: “(1) the gaps function—correcting the inadequacies of existing courses; (2) the functional theory—to educate Black students for useful service in the Black community; (3) the humanizing function—to help White students overcome racist attitudes by imparting new knowledge and new human values; (4) the reconciliation theory—to bring about a new spirit of cooperation between Blacks and Whites; (5) the psychological function—to instill a sense of pride in Black students to develop a sense of identity; and (6) the ideological function—to serve as a means to develop new ideological, Third World orientations, to develop theories of revolution and nation-building.”124

Mission of African American Studies125

The mission of Black/Africana Studies (also called African American Studies, Afro-American Studies, Pan-African Studies, Black American Studies, and African Diaspora Studies) is to advance and transmit broad knowledge of the histories, cultures, and linkages among peoples of Africa and their descendants in the New World and to provide intellectual tools to analyze, understand, and address the significant social, political, economic, and humanist problems they face. The discipline rests on efforts to focus in diverse ways on several different configurations of African people, as defined by their locations, migrations, and reconstructions on the continent, in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere. While (as indicated in the various names) programs vary in defining their focus as global, continental, diaspora, or national, the core curriculum model proposed herein offers a well-demarcated yet flexible common framework for the common and the task of integrating several disciplinary perspectives to examine the historical and contemporary experiences, conditions, and aspirations of African descendant peoples.126

One mission of Black Studies is to provide Black students with the knowledge and skills necessary for the acquisition of power, status, and privilege. Ewart Guinier, who organized the first Afro-American Studies at Harvard University in 1969, wrote the following mission about African American Studies:

It is in Black Studies that our Black youth, especially those on white campuses, have been learning the great lessons needed to survive in a hostile environment: how to combine the training of the mind with struggles for justice, equality, and above all else for some measure of control over one’s destiny.127

LeRoi R. Ray, Jr. suggests that:

Black Studies should assist youth in their struggle for identity. Black Studies must correct the beliefs which whites hold that Blacks race inferior and that whites are superior. Black Studies must determine if and when Black people have accepted their physical features, and if they have positive attitudes towards themselves while under the pressure to dislike, degrade and hate their Black features. Black Studies must deal factually with how this nation came to be and why, in order to straighten out the deliberate distortions on which the present Black-White relationship has been based.128 ← 19 | 20 →

African American Studies is devoted to the exploration and analysis of the history and culture of African people in the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa to liberate African American people. It seeks to objectively explore the Black experience, to illustrate the contributions of African people to world culture, and to provide an alternative to traditional interpretations and approaches to the study of African people and their experiences.

Objectives of African American Studies129

The objectives of African American Studies serve as benchmarks for us to evaluate the content, curriculum, mission, purpose, and relevance of the discipline:

1. To provide an understanding of the life, history, and culture of African Americans—an awareness of the Black experience;

2. To develop the tools of inquiry necessary for research and publication;

3. To provide an opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge for building the Black community;

4. To provide an understanding of the current social, economic, political, and psychological condition of Black people;

5. To provide an understanding of racism as an element in American life;

6. To empower and liberate Black people;

7. To provide specialized training and to develop professionals;

8. To humanize American education and American society;

9. To destroy myths about Blacks;

10. To help develop a positive Black self and Black identity;

11. To provide an opportunity to experiment with art forms expressing the Black experience;

12. To reveal the personal and social consequences of racism and to prepare students for the work which will help destroy that aspect of American society;

13. To provide interdisciplinary study in the arts, sciences, and humanities from Black perspectives;

14. To provide meaningful human study experience which in itself might serve as a career or complement the professions in the fields of education, sociology, psychology, and social work;

15. To expose students from all cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds to academic experiences beyond those generally found in traditional college curricula.

African American Studies and Its Social–Community Responsibility130

The intellectual development is only part of the discipline’s mission. The other component concerns how we transform our scholarship into a social ideology that helps to redirect the lives of African American people. An important part of the mission of African American Studies is to serve as a resource to our communities. Simply said, Black Studies is never Black Studies if there is no ← 20 | 21 → community component. This is one of the main components that separates Black Studies from every other discipline in the academy and was part of the original mission of Black Studies when it was first established in the late 1960s. The discipline was founded by members of the community and was never intended to be an endeavor which lent itself exclusively to the academic world.131 Hence, Black Studies issues will never be completely resolved in the classroom, for the very being of Black Studies insists that the voices of the rejected are heard and included in the construction of “where do we go from here?”

There is a need for African American Studies to fulfill its original mission132 to liberate African American people and to commit itself to the communities’ needs. In this connection, African American Studies must once again become committed to addressing the consciousness, realities, and urgencies of the life situations of African Americans. Utilizing the applied, experiential, and activist model from which Black Studies programs originally developed, pedagogies of community building and advocacy scholarship are central to the survival of the discipline. It must seek to make significant contributions to the education and liberation of all African men, women, and children and not just limited to professors and students. Ronald Waters notes that:

The main business of the liberation of Black people requires the kind of education and programming that will come about outside of the control exercised upon us by white institutions. … This implies two things which may seem contradictory, but which are really one in the same strategy. For the present time we must continue to work inside white institutions under whatever Black framework … At the same time we have a duty to see to it that there is continued movement toward the establishment of independent black educational centers and systems. This will require assisting the Black community to develop meaningful relationships between some of the various structures within which Black education in some form now takes place.133

He further notes:

[The] Black Studies community needs to constantly keep before it the imperative for unity and the family hood as organizing principles. … [T]he only reason why so many Black faculty and administrators are in their positions can be traced directly to the struggle of Black students. Their responsibility, therefore, is one of serving the fundamental interest of the black community on campus. Looking for a moment at the needs of the brothers and sisters in the immediate black community who will shoulder much of the success or failure for Black Studies, one must understand the necessity to see to it that they are in every way prepared to execute their responsibility. Responsiveness to their needs dictates an acute sensitivity to their individual abilities and desires. …134

Though some of the goals set by the early leaders and architects of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements have been reached, there still remains an urgent need for African American Studies to provide direction to nonacademic communities in order to assist in confronting existing sociopolitical and economic challenges African Americans still face on a daily basis. Perhaps the central goal in the years ahead should be for African American Studies to have an impact on the quality of life for all African American people. This requires research to be refocused, redirected, and recommitted to the needs of our communities. This demands involvement in all institutions that affect our daily lives (e.g., the court system, family, schools, churches, labor, and entertainment). Programs and activities must be planned and implemented to deal with the systemic problems and challenges Black people face in America.135

Why Study African and African American Studies?136

African and African American Studies are multidisciplinary.137 They focus globally on the life, culture, and social organization of persons of African descent in Africa, North America, Latin America, and Caribbean, etc.; thus, their focus is anywhere peoples of the African Diaspora find themselves. Courses in African and African American Studies engage students to learn about African peoples in general and ← 21 | 22 → the experiences of the African Americans in particular. African American Studies is the foundation of an excellent liberal arts education, laying the groundwork for careers in education, social sciences, and public policy. Pursing a degree in African American Studies allows students to become more diversified and educated in the way of thinking and meaning.138 Students are also well prepared to do graduate work in law, ethnic studies, or allied areas in the social sciences, humanities, and the arts. African American Studies majors are accepted into the very best graduate and professional school programs. In those areas where knowledge of minority affairs is desirable, students holding African American Studies degrees have a decided advantage. African American Studies students are equipped with skills, values, and knowledge they can use to improve the human condition. African American Studies seeks to educate students to transform their communities and society.139

What Can You Do with a Degree in African American Studies?140

African American Studies is an excellent major for training your reading, writing, and analytical skills. These skills are useful and valuable no matter what profession you pursue. Because African American Studies relates to numerous other fields, the number of required courses for the major is relatively small to allow maximum flexibility. This allows students to take advantage of the field’s interdisciplinary nature, by taking courses in other fields, or by pursuing a double major, combined degree, or a minor in another subject. Graduate and professional schools like African American Studies majors because they know that African American Studies students pursue a rigorous course of studies. By combining study in African American Studies with experiential learning through co-op, study abroad, and/or Dialogue of Civilizations, you can get practical experience that will give you greater flexibility after you graduate. African American Studies is a truly global and interdisciplinary degree. College graduates with African American Studies degrees have become doctors, lawyers, entertainers, politicians, public health professionals, diplomats, professors, astronauts, journalists, engineers, artists, poets, executives, entrepreneurs, and more!141

The Concept of the Discipline of African American Studies142

What makes African American Studies a singular unique discipline at the most fundamental level is its foundational framework of African Centeredness143 and the African Worldview.144 What makes White Studies145 a singular discipline is its European worldview146 conceptual basis and the artificial boundaries that separate its disciplines (psychology, religion, sociology, etc.). Black Studies must avoid this artificial boundary distinction and must look at African and African American people in a holistic way.147 Semaj understood this in his articulation of “cultural science”: the African Worldview base makes our work culturally centered. That is, applying the African patterns for interpreting reality is the conceptual starting point for our work.148 For example, consider the position that there is no distinction between African (Black) psychology and Black religion, because each owes its existence and unfolding to the dictation of the African Worldview.149 “Black Studies became a discipline because of the manner in which the content is approached [and] … because of how we manipulate phenomena.”150 Swindell lists ways that characterize this approach and content in Black Studies: (1) we look at contemporary phenomena in terms of past antecedents; (2) we factor in the impact of White Supremacy on human activity; (3) we analyze relationships that on the surface do not appear to be related, for example, the rise of White women and the inevitable corresponding decline of African males … the rise of capitalism and the decline of Africa … and on and on; (4) the practical application of knowledge to the social needs of our people as contrasted with the Eurocentric construct of “knowledge for the sake of knowledge”; (5) inclusion of the masses in the discourse rather than exclusion; and (6) stress on liberation above all. African American Studies is both an interdisciplinary field and a singular discipline.151 The basis of the African Worldview in Black Studies eliminates any seeming contradiction on this point. ← 22 | 23 →

As a discipline, African American Studies is sustained by a commitment to centering the study of African phenomena, events, and persons in the particular cultural voice of the composite African and African American people. The historical experiences of Africans are the main point of reference and foundation of African American Studies. African Centeredness, the operationalization of the African as subject, allows African American Studies to stand alongside other disciplines. Normative principles combined with the objectives, relevance, and conceptual framework of African American Studies support what Karenga terms a set of “core integrative principals and assumptions” that are the “thematic glue” holding together the core disciplinary subject areas (history, religion, sociology, psychology, religion, creative production, politics, and economics): “(1) each subject area of Black Studies is a vital aspect and area of the Black experience and, therefore, contributive to the understanding and appreciation of its wholeness; (2) effectively integrated into the pattern of the discipline as a whole, each subject area becomes a microcosm of the macrocosm, the Black experience, which not only enriches our knowledge of the Black experience, but also enhances the analytical process and products of the discipline itself; and (3) all the subjects areas mesh and intersect not only at the point of their primary focus, i.e., Black people in the process of shaping reality in their own image and interest, but also in their self-conscious commitment and contribution to the definition and solution of the social and discipline problems which serve as the core challenges to Black Studies.”152

The Development of African American Studies Core Curricula153

An aspect of standardization, and the one most relevant to the day-to-day work in Black Studies, has to do with the development of a core curriculum. The NCBS took the lead in 1980 with the adoption of the report entitled The Curriculum Standards Committee chaired by Dr. Perry Hall. This report makes the singular contribution of codifying the basic parameters of a core curriculum in such a way that the diversity of ideological and academic trends in Black Studies will be able to coexist and develop within the same standardized framework. The general framework of the NCBS model is widespread, but the content of each course varies from program to program. The purpose is to identify key areas that have been central to the development of Black Studies and represent necessary aspects of a course by course curriculum. Its main point is to identify trends and clearly point to areas of strength and weakness in Black Studies so we are in a better position to improve the discipline as a whole. But what were the intellectual precursors of Black Studies? What are the differences and similarities of the disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary models for Black Studies? How do these precursors help us to understand how Black Studies is structured in the university today?

Disciplinary Model154

“The Disciplinary Model utilizes an existing discipline or field as the basis for examining the African World Experience. A disciplinary approach includes the examination of the cultural, political, and socioeconomic systems of the African populations and is linked to a traditional discipline or field. This model also offers few options that can be tailored to individual needs and, therefore, fails to make a commitment to an intellectual concern for a wide range of issues and concepts pertaining to the realities of the African World Experience. Normally this model utilizes one disciplinary framework in addressing the issues, which limits and narrows the focus. The Disciplinary Model selects one of three areas: (1) history, (2) sociology or (3) literature. This examination tends not to focus on an African centered framework, but instead uses a traditional academic paradigm.”155

Interdisciplinary Model156

“The Interdisciplinary Black Studies/African Studies Curriculum Model draws upon the traditional disciplines for their primary course offerings. The interdisciplinary model assumes that the traditional ← 23 | 24 → academic fields can provide a comprehensive examination of the African World Experience by coordinating the course offerings between various departments. However, most of the courses offered in this model tend to be directed towards the curriculum needs of the traditional department rather than the Black Studies Department curriculum. The foci of the courses are designed to facilitate the philosophical and theoretical intellectual objectives of the traditional disciplines. While the course offerings might be useful for specialists interested in understanding disciplinary questions, they do not address the fundamental questions that are at the center of the Black Studies/Africana Studies field.”157

Multidisciplinary Curriculum Model158

“The multidisciplinary curriculum model requires autonomous academic units. The department faculty defines the nature and content of the course offerings. The majority of the multidisciplinary program curricula reviewed indicates that most of the curricula are structured in four ways: (1) Social Sciences and Humanities courses with a Social Sciences specialization and Humanities specialization; (2) Social Sciences and Humanities courses with only a Social Science specialization; (3) Social Sciences and Humanities courses with only a Humanities specialization; and (4) Social Sciences courses with only a specialization in one of the professional fields. The course offerings in these programs reflect the same problems that the interdisciplinary model presents in that the curriculum does not offer a coherent or comprehensive body of knowledge within any specific area of content. Very seldom is there a philosophical or theoretical concept that underpins the design or structure of the curriculum. Further, the multidisciplinary model does not address the fundamental questions that are at the center of the Black Studies/Africana Studies field. Programs that utilize the multidisciplinary model are shaped and formed by the traditional disciplinary intellectual thrust.”159

Holistic Model160

Black Studies/Africana Studies Holistic Curriculum Model

Level I: Introduction to Black Studies/Africana Studies

Level II: Foundations of Black Studies/Africana Studies

A. Methods and Approaches to Black Studies/Africana Studies

B. African World Civilization I: Antiquity—15th Century

C. African World Civilization II: 15th Century—19th Century

D. African World Civilization III: 19th Century—the Present

Level III: Geo-Cultural Regions

A. African Diaspora (People of African descent who reside outside Africa)

B. African Continent (People of African descent who reside in Africa)

C. Comparative African World (A comparative examination of people of African descent and their societies around the world)

Level IV: Suggested Subfields

A. Organizational and Political Dynamics

B. Language, Literature, and Communication Systems

C. Religions, Philosophy, and Worldviews

D. Economic and Social Development

E. Individual, Family, and Community Dynamics

F. Arts and Aesthetics

G. History and Historical Development

H. Science and Technological Development

Level V: Pro-Seminar in Research Methods and Tools

Level VI: Practical Research and Fieldwork ← 24 | 25 →

Basic Competencies for African American Studies161

African American Studies majors must learn to evaluate information for a variety of criteria including: subtleties of language, external and internal motivations and social or historical context. Assessment is a key area for establishing academic excellence. African American Studies need to articulate learning goals, ongoing programs of assessment, and explanations of how assessment results will be used to improve teaching and learning in the discipline. In the long term, the kinds of assessment that we are interested in seeing will be very specific to the needs of departments in the development of core courses. Assessment provides the opportunity to reevaluate the stated learning outcomes for African American Studies majors, and it provides useful insight into areas of pedagogy and development that may not have been studied in such a way before. The following are general competencies for an African American Studies major:162

1. African American Studies majors should be able to recite the historical chronology that gave rise to the field of African American Studies.

2. African American Studies majors must be able to identify the important contributors to the field and explain the relevance and multidisciplinary scope of the field.

3. African American Studies majors are expected to give cogent facts to demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of the field.

4. African American Studies majors must be able to recall the details in the timeline of African and African American history.

5. African American Studies majors should be able to give profiles and cite the principle contributions of the major literary, musical, and artistic figures in the African American experience.

6. African American Studies majors are expected to be able to trace the development of the African American religious experiences from Africa to America in the context of world history.

7. African American Studies majors must be able to recall the fundamental facts in the history of the American economic and political systems.

8. African American Studies majors should be able to discuss the divergent psychological and sociological theories with reference to the African American experiences.

9. African American Studies majors are expected to recite the major facts in the history of African Americans in medicine, science, technology, education, and sports.

10. African American Studies majors should be able to demonstrate college-level skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, researching, and reasoning.

Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Research in African American Studies

In any academic discipline, there exist varying and oftentimes even conflicting conceptual and theoretical models, methods, and paradigms. Nathan Hare (1973), who many acknowledge as the father of contemporary Black Studies, proposed from the beginning that Black scholars must develop new norms and values grounded in a new (African-centered) ideology and from such ideology new methodologies ← 25 | 26 → might evolve. He conceded, however, “that the new approaches and methods in Black Studies may subsume and overlap existing norms of scholarly endeavors. Skepticism of much of the previous study and research on Blacks was based on the fact that prior to the 1960s, a preponderance of the study and research on African Americans represented White Studies from ‘without’ rather than Black self-knowledge from ‘within.’ Black skepticism was not an indictment of all white scholars. However, too much of the literature was based upon distorted assessments, reckless assumptions and vested Eurocentric interests that were not conducive to the enhancement of peoples of African descent. Consequently, the entire academic ideology of Black Studies involves the reassessment of methodology, reinterpretation of fundamental assumptions of knowledge, and review of subsequent conclusions from Black perspectives.”163

Theory and Theory Building in the Discipline164

Theory incorporates new and alternative models and frameworks that are designed to give meaning and provide clarity to existing information, as well as to provide the building blocks for the foundation and construction of new knowledge. The essential functions of theory in African American Studies are to provide a general orientation to the important concepts central to the discipline; establish parameters regarding form and content; formulate empirical generalizations by fusing qualitative and quantitative methods; and utilize different paradigms and disciplinary modifications in the interplay of theory and practice.

Before discussing specific frames of reference, quasi-theories, or theories, we need to examine further what theory is and particularly how it is constructed in the discipline. We must recognize that there is more than one definition of African American Studies which helps us to understand how the various theories stem from the different ideological backgrounds. Although there are other views, the underlying one—African-centered/African worldview—is put forward here as representative of much of the current thinking in African American Studies. There is a lack of theoretical linkages in African American Studies, yet some individuals have suggested that we incorporate theory building in African American Studies under other academic disciplines such as Economics, English, History, or Sociology.165

There are alternative theoretical models that serve to organize ideas and guide research. Different theories are usually found in the alternative texts that have developed within and outside of the discipline and are an expression of a basic position in African American Studies. There are three fundamental points of unity: how the central theme of African American Studies is “academic excellence and social responsibility”; African American intellectual history is the foundation of the field; and Africa remains an important reference for the historical origin of the African American experience and for comparative analysis as well. The positioning of an alternative theoretical understanding of the Black experience—its meanings and its implications—was the main underlying intellectual challenge of African American Studies as a new discipline. There are three sources of theory which were central to African American Studies in its early years which remain critically relevant in the 1980s and should be covered in any Black Studies course: (1) mainstream scholarship, (2) radical critiques, and (3) Black intellectual history.166 Alkalimat and associates provide a paradigm of unity for African American Studies and a framework in which all points of view can have the most useful coexistence. This includes Marxists, Nationalists, Pan-Africanists, and old-fashioned civil rights integrationists. Their specific orientation is antiracist, antisexist, and anti-capitalist and is based on most of our Black intellectual tradition of a progressive socialist position.167 Molefi Kete Asante (1980) put forward a theory called “Afrocentricity,”168 which consciously attempts to build on Kawaida Theory169 by Maulana Karenga. Clarence Munford (1978) presents a Marxist analysis where he focuses on making a historical analysis of class and class struggle as the basis for understanding the Black experience. His analysis especially concentrates on enslavement, the lumpenproletariat, racism, and Africa.170 ← 26 | 27 →

At the discipline’s current stage of development, we can talk more accurately about the “frames of reference” or “quasi-theories” we use rather than the “theories,” because most theory in African American Studies is not developed to the applied/application stage.171 Because research is the fundamental cornerstone on which sound theory is transformed into effective organizational practice, it is important that the methodological foundation on which the research is based be both sound and rigorous.172 Table 1.1 presents a schema of different schools of thought used within the discipline.

Illustration

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Table 1.1. Theoretical Paradigms in African American Studies173

Methods174 and Methodologies175 in African American Studies176

African American Studies is different from other disciplines, even though it has used methods and methodologies of other disciplines to research and interpret African American culture and life. In developing their studies, researchers in African American Studies use the methods of the anthropologist, the economist, the historian, the psychologist, and the sociologist. Approaches used to study African Americans have come primarily from the social sciences and based on the concepts, methods, theories, and paradigms of the disciplines. However, the perspective of all research conducted in African American Studies should be African centered and attempt to incorporate the African worldview in its research methodology.177 A researcher/scholar in African American Studies should be judged in terms of the methods used in his work, because the methods determine the relevance and validity of results and conclusions.

African-centered methodology can provide an operational framework within the discipline to define specific methodological terminologies and research approaches. The normative and empirical ← 28 | 29 → approaches should form the basis for research in African American Studies. Different kinds of data require discrete and different research approaches–methodologies. Three main approaches can serve to define the research and subject matter of African American Studies: (1) The historical approach seeks through the study of the classical African civilizations to connect the central traditional concerns and interests of African American scholars in all intellectual disciplines. It asks: “What did the intellectual founders say about the experience of African American people in American society?” (2) The empirical method studies current African-centered work to discover which discipline areas of African American Studies can contribute to the liberation and empowerment of African American people? In other words, “What are contemporary African American scholars doing?” (3) The analytical approach systematically examines issues and concerns of the African American society. It asks, in effect: “What impact does this have on African Americans, their communities and institutions?” Researchers in the discipline should incorporate culturally sensitive approaches when focusing on African Americans. We can use the cultural knowledge and experiences of researchers and their participants in the design of the research and theoretical framework as well as in the collection and interpretation of data.

Research Methods in African American Studies178

Research methods in African American Studies can offer a broad coverage of the arts, humanities, and social science research issues comprising philosophical, theoretical, and methodological perspectives. Our goal is to examine each of these aspects of research and to develop competency and applied skills across a wide range of methodological approaches. Scholars in the discipline should conduct research shaped by many different methodologies and paradigms. We need to emphasize the “how to” and “application” of research rather than abstract discussion of topics. Research in African American Studies can incorporate tools and techniques used in both quantitative and qualitative approaches and require professionals and students to engage in practical research design, development, and analysis to provide solutions to problems in our communities.179 Table 1.2 presents a schema of basic research methods180 used within bodies of knowledge of the discipline:

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← 29 | 30 →

Table 1.2. Disciplinary Research Methods Used in African American Studies181

African American Studies: New Challenges and Future Directions

As we look toward the future, the agenda of African American Studies is a challenging and complex one. Some African American Studies departments and programs are rather stable in White institutions, and they will continue to exist as long as the presence of African American students increases on college campuses. What should be of concern, however, are the relationships African American Studies departments and programs established with the communities outside the universities.182 On a purely pragmatic basis, a primary objective of African American Studies is to generate and disseminate knowledge which is accurately representative of African American and African Diaspora historical and contemporary experiences. African American Studies is perhaps the only academic discipline whose mission requires its scholars and students to be responsible to their communities.

Currently, the most pressing issue facing African American Studies is the need to establish a national agenda for the discipline, particularly for those institutions with fully functioning/operational/degree-granting Ph.D. programs. Whenever research is conducted about African and African American people, those scholars who do work in the discipline need to be clear about what is intended by research done from within or without. We should make it a crucial part of any research that African American Studies Departments/Programs must be consulted, given a lead role in conducting the research, or at least consulted if/when scholars and agencies engage in projects and research about African American people.183 Whatever types of studies we undertake—whether they are narrow or broad—should be valued based on what they contribute to improve the life situations and conditions of African American people. There has been a paucity of real, structurally related research that has come out of the discipline ← 30 | 31 → in the past forty years—a betrayal of its original purpose and the work done by leading figures like Arthur Schomburg, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Bunche, Carter G. Woodson, Ira De A. Reid, John Blassingame, Oliver Cox, Vivian Gordon, John Hope Franklin, E. Franklin Frazier, John Henrik Clarke, St. Clair Drake, Ronald Walters, Horace Cayton, J. Saunders Redding, Elliot Skinner, Andrew Brimmer, Horace Mann Bond, Nathan Huggins, Rayford Logan, Charles S. Johnson, Jacob Carruthers, and Allison Davis and even the cultural and aesthetic scholars like Harold Cruse, Addison Gayle, Jr., Amiri Baraka, bell hooks, Hoyt Fuller, Albert Murray, Marimba Ani, Houston Baker, Sterling Brown, and Michelle Wallace and what it means in terms of survival as a discipline when there is a national retreat for support of African American Studies, be it in the form of “multiculturalism” or “culture wars.”

Teaching African American Studies

Black Studies/African American Studies is in part, of course, a creation of Du Bois, and now, in this era which Wilson states is the “age of Du Bois,” Black Studies can be no less demanding. There has to be at all times a basic commitment of service to Black communities through intellectual preparation and teaching competence of the highest order. The integrity of the learning process must be respected and teachers must have self-respect and acknowledge that there are distinct roles for students and teachers. The responsibilities of each must be explicit and filled with honor. Care is to be taken to avoid meaningless rhetoric and uncouth performances that will deprecate these standards. Carter G. Woodson discovered that almost all education offered to Blacks by White America is demoralizing and crippling; therefore, Black Studies must be strong and remain in the forefront for developing and strengthening the intellectual, social and political thought necessary for human liberation.184

An historical understanding of current problems and issues along with proactive tactics for the future must be an integral part of the field. Knowledge of, and adherence to, the African world view must lead to establishing Africans’ contributions to humankind and providing students with the foundation for understanding and appreciating the past and forging and developing the future.

A primary purpose of African American Studies is to expose the student to various historical, philosophical, theoretical, and political perspectives employed within the discipline. It should provide a broad understanding of the variety of issues confronting instructors within the discipline. It has three main purposes: First, it introduces students to different methods and viewpoints of African American Studies. Second, it provides opportunities for students to engage systematically and rigorously in the interpretation of African American Studies. Third, it aims to construct an intellectual setting within which students can contribute to the schools of thought as they develop African-centered knowledge, curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy.185

African American Studies and Public Policy

It is important that a “policy” component of our multidiscipline relate directly to our mission of community involvement. In this sense, an African American Studies practitioner is simultaneously a theorist, a reformer, and an agent of/for change. His or her job should be not only to provide studies in cultural heritage and consciousness rising, but also attempt to improve the lives of the Black masses. A Black Studies practitioner must be well trained in a multitude of subjects, but his interests in these areas must be further distinguished by his or her total commitment to the betterment of the Black community.186 In effect, the Black Studies practitioner must be a social/political scientist within the Du Boisian realm. “As such Public Policy in African American Studies has the following objectives: (1) to introduce students to theories and concepts in the social and behavioral sciences as they relate to socio-political, economic, and cultural issues in the Black community; (2) to provide students with the necessary tools and skills of public policy research and applied public policy analyses; (3) to critically examine various modes of inquiry (methodologies) and the relationship between policy research and policymaking; (4) to emphasize the importance of political institutions and economic relations as ← 31 | 32 → determinants of the policy-making process and context (specific concerns should include voting rights, family, education, housing, healthcare, employment, economics, business, and community development); (5) to define policy and its numerous dimensions and identify and describe various policy mechanisms relevant to the discipline; and (6) to recognize and discuss the theoretical underpinnings of the policy areas and critically debate the structure and implementation practices of policies that affect the Black community.”187

We need to incorporate theories and concepts of African American Studies and Public Policy to resolve sociopolitical, economic, and cultural issues affecting the Black community. As shown in Figure 1.1,188 African American Studies and public policy can provide the framework/structure to interpret the interlocking cultural–social–political dynamics affecting African Americans. Needed work in policy studies relevant to the African American communities can take place in African American Studies, think tanks, research institutes, public policy centers,189 universities, governmental agencies, and other organizations. The tools and resources of public policy can direct research in African American Studies.

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Figure 1.1. Fields and Functions of African American Studies and Public Policy190

African American and African Diaspora Studies191

Another item that must take priority in the agenda of African American Studies is our connection and involvement with Africa and all people in the African Diaspora. The Black Power and Black Consciousness movements of the 1960s influenced social and political change in many countries such as England, France, Haiti, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, and we must now become leaders in the global community. We need not abandon our commitment to African Americans, but what happens in the Diaspora is just as critical to our uplift as what happens in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, or Washington, D. C.

The introduction of African and African American Studies into the academy provided new possibilities and challenges for higher education and Diaspora Studies. There is a need for African American Studies to incorporate African Diaspora Studies into its curricula, courses, research, and ideological emphasis beyond that which is being done in a few specific programs.192 African American Studies should enhance the wisdom of John Henrik Clarke, St. Clair Drake, W. E. B. Du Bois, and their ← 32 | 33 → precursors on this issue. St. Clair Drake noted that Black Studies programs constitute the single most important academic structure for initiating and consolidating cooperative relations with African, Latin American, and Asian institutions interested in developing Diaspora Studies. African Diaspora Studies can enhance African American Studies by providing more inclusive cultural, political, economic, and educational perspectives. It can also provide a framework for correcting the misinterpretation and subordination of the African Diaspora.193 John Henrik Clarke notes that:

There is now a need for a global approach to Africana Studies, one that embraces the Africans in Africa, in North and South America, and in the Caribbean Islands, as well as the millions of Africans in Asia and the Pacific Islands who are just discovering that they are African people. … There is no way to talk about Africana Studies without looking again at the roots of world history and the interplay among the histories of various peoples. …194

Study Abroad Programs195

Studying abroad provides a great opportunity for African American Studies majors to understand their course work in a broader context. By exposing students to a variety of different cultures and experiences, they have a better framework with which to critique and contribute to academic topics of interest. Structured study abroad programs in African American Studies provide students with an international travel experience that enhances their basic knowledge and understanding of African and Diaspora history and culture and of the role of African intellectual work and develops students’ understanding of basic terminology and factual content in classical African intellectual history (as the foundation for classical, medieval, and modern knowledge systems). Another aspect about study abroad programs is their ability to provide African American Studies students with opportunities to work internationally. This exposure allows those trained in African American Studies to affect the life situations of Africans outside of their home country. Students can extend their university experience by studying a variety of regions and countries in Africa as well as the African Diaspora of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.

Hip-Hop Culture and Hip-Hop Studies196

Hip-Hop’s incursion into higher education197 took place within the same tradition as Black Studies, Chicano Studies, Asian American Studies, and Women Studies, etc. In those cases, students used nonviolent protest as well as arguments of standards and inclusion to achieve representation within the academic curriculum. Students introduced Hip-Hop to colleges and universities.198 Researchers are also interested in how Hip-Hop incorporates and critiques culture and society and especially issues of representation and power. Hip-Hop is concerned with the major questions of philosophy, identity, ideology, art, and existence. It is also interested in how oppressed people and voices move into dominant culture and creates space for themselves. Students of Hip-Hop are well aware of the society’s unwillingness to hear the analysis, critique and story within hip-hop and agitate for its inclusion.199

Scholarship on Hip-Hop now exists in education, psychology, anthropology, sociology, political science, philosophy, theater, art, business, physics, religion, English, linguistics, American Studies, history, communications, African American Studies, music, and more. It is a celebration of the level of support and commitment throughout the world for Hip-Hop to be incorporated into higher education without losing and compromising what Hip-Hop is and means to those who introduced it and to those who continue to develop and sustain Hip-Hop culture.200

African American (Africana) Women’s Studies201

The intersecting sociopolitical variables of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation provide the foundation for the development of African American Women’s Studies. Womanist and feminist movements challenged the existing focus and paradigm of African American Studies suggesting that the role of ← 33 | 34 → women in the history and struggle of African people has been underemphasized and insufficiently recognized in the discipline. Africana/African American Women’s Studies emerged during the formative years of African American Studies when the contributions of African American women were being overshadowed and neglected by the male leadership. Black women are often also marginalized by White women in Women’s Studies and initially sought inclusion within the discipline to develop discourse, curriculum, and scholarships to combat both racism and sexism.

The first Women’s Studies class was taught in the 1960s at universities like San Diego State202 and was based on the model set up by African American Studies. Black Women’s Studies emerged as a discipline in the late 1970s in conjunction with both Women’s Studies and African American Studies. Black Women have played a significant role in African American history and culture; the lack of adequate scholarly treatment of Black women in both African American Studies and the academy as a whole has led to an increased effort by Black women to create and sustain their own space for teaching and research forcing an alternative vision. African American women “… despite racist and sexist treatment in a variety of institutional contexts have … struggle[d] for equal access, fair treatment and images of themselves within the academy. [African American Women’s Studies] has transformed higher education by making it more responsive to the needs of Black women, establishing Black Women’s Studies, and revamping both Black Studies and Women’s Studies.”203

In “The Politics of Black Women’s Studies,” Barbara Smith and Gloria Hull posited four issues pertaining to African American Women’s Studies: (1) the general political situation of Afro-American women and the bearing this has had upon the implementation of Black Women’s Studies; (2) the relationship of Black Women’s Studies to black feminist politics and the black feminist movement; (3) the necessity for Black Women’s Studies to be feminist, radical, and analytical; and (4) the need for teachers of Black Women’s Studies to be aware of our problematic political positions in the academy and of the potentially antagonistic conditions under which we must work. They further suggest that Black Women’s Studies would not be dependent on Women’s Studies, Black Studies, or “straight disciplinary departments for its existence, but will be an autonomous academic entity making coalitions with all three.”204

Black Gay and Lesbian Studies205

It is a reality that African American gays and lesbians are members of our community.206 Therefore, it is unacceptable that the discourse about Black life in America does not include Black gays and lesbians and even more unacceptable that the scholarship written by Black gay and lesbian scholars gets little to no reference as we shape African American Studies for the 21st century. Dwight McBride writes: “Telling the truths of Black life in the United States requires a multiplicity of voices. It takes voices invested in the stories and experiences of Black men and women; Black heterosexuals and Black gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender folk; … The time has come for African Americans to embrace, celebrate and document our greatest strengths as a community—our diversity and our complexity.”207 As a discipline, we need to examine the historical and contemporary issues and myths about sexuality regarding Black manhood and womanhood as they affect our community. Just as questions were raised about what constitutes African American Women’s Studies, similar questions have been asked, but with much more conflict, about the place of African American Gay and Lesbian Studies in the broader African American community and culture.208

The experience of African American gays and lesbians is a disturbing and often painful narrative that describes the attempt to establish an identity and create a visible community after having been marginalized from the mainstream community. With advancements made through the Civil Rights Movement and changing views on sexuality in contemporary society, African American gays and lesbians have made some gains in social recognition. However, homophobia and heterosexism continue to shape the way they are perceived in the discipline. Simmons states, “One of the most serious challenges ← 34 | 35 → facing Black gay intellectuals is the development of a progressive view of homosexuality in the African American community. … The insight Black gay scholars may provide on critical problems confronting the African American community is ignored by our heterosexual brothers and sisters who are attempting to solve these problems.”209 Although similar to the criticism with Black Women’s Studies, some of the criticism from within the discipline is the idea that focusing on sexual orientation and race would also take the discipline’s main focus off race and culture. But, as Black Studies needs to represent the larger African and African American community, Black Women’s Studies, and Black Gay and Lesbian Studies also needs to be included within the larger discipline of Black Studies.210

African Centeredness, Afrocentricity, and the African Worldview

Some contemporary scholars use the terms “Afrocentric” and “African centered” interchangeably. I argue that this is an error. “Afrocentric” is a term that usually seeks to describe an individual or a scholarly effort in terms of its inclusion of African cultural phenomena. “African centered,” on the other hand, is a paradigmatic term that seeks to position the philosophical place of the scholar under question, along with the resulting body of knowledge, creative production and authorial intent. Put simply, an African-centered scholar is one who examines all phenomena—unapologetically—from the worldview or cosmological place of the African.211 “Afrocentricity”212 has come to represent the shallow question of things such as the clothes one wears and the style of one’s hair. However, I posit that “African centered” is the term which will usher scholars into a place where both the African world and all other realities speak for themselves and have value—on their own terms.

Even though Afrocentricity has its critics inside and outside of the disciplines (D’Souza, Howe, Moses, Lefkowitz, Ravitch, and Schlesinger),213 it could be argued that during the last two decades in African American Studies, no other conceptual framework or theoretical construct has generated more discussion and debate inside and outside of the academy than the theory of Afrocentricity. Although popularized by Molefi K. Asante, he was not the first person to coin the term “Afrocentric” in the discussion of African people.214 To varying degrees, Afrocentricity has negatively inspired some scholarship of the discipline since many articles, books, and dissertations use Afrocentricity as a rationale for their methodologies and research designs. Parallel to this movement evolves the concepts of African centeredness and African worldview which have influenced many African American scholars and many students’ research, teaching, and instruction.

The African worldview provides an African-centered model of culture and knowledge and articulates a systematic structure for dealing with all aspects of the African and African American experience. The construction of Black feminist thought215 developed by Patricia Hill-Collins incorporates some of the perspectives of Afrocentricity, African centeredness, Black feminist thought and the African worldview when she states, “African American Studies is a human science that is committed to discovering in human experience, historical and contemporary, all the ways African people have tried to make their physical, social, and cultural environments serve humanity.”216

Critical African American Studies217

Critical African American Studies fosters cross disciplinary reconfiguration of the arts, humanities, socials science and science and technology to challenges and create new frames of references that are explanatory, practical, and normative. Its focus is on the major debates that have animated the field of Black Studies, addressing a wide range of issues from the slave trade to the present. Critical African American Studies focus is on specific questions such as: What came first, racism or slavery?; Is African art primitive?; Did Europe under develop Africa?; Is there Caribbean History or just history in the Caribbean?; Should Black Studies exist?; Is there a Black American culture?; Is Affirmative Action necessary?; Was the Civil Rights Movement a product of government action or grass roots pressure?; and Is the underclass problem a matter of structure or agency?218 ← 35 | 36 →

Manning Marable and a cast of influential contributors suggest that a new beginning is needed for African American scholarship. They explain why Black Studies needs to break its conceptual and thematic limitations, exploring “Blackness” in new ways and in different geographic sites. They outline the major issues that should shape a new Black Studies—the complex relationships between race, gender, sexuality, class, and youth. They argue that African American Studies scholarship must help shape and redirect public policies that affect Black communities, working with government, foundations and other private institutions on such issues as housing, health care, and criminal justice. They suggest that Critical Black Studies also offers a special focus on Black youth and the hip-hop generation; the surging of Hispanic population gives strong voice to Black feminist studies; attendant loss of voting rights especially among Black males; and addresses practical realities of Black life including racial targeting, high imprisonment rates, immigration, deindustrialization, urban gentrification, and crack cocaine.219

Applied African American Studies220

African American cultural and historical knowledge, techniques, and perspectives must be applied to a range of courses, problems, and community action programs. African American scholars must offer their expertise to develop, implement, and evaluate social factors that favor or hinder programs of economic, educational, and political development. African American scholars must become specialists on community social organization in order to advise the community about the social conditions that cause the problems now plaguing the African American community, family, etc. African American researchers and scholars must be the leaders of our community and culture and become members of multidisciplinary teams and projects to solve problems African American people are confronting in the 21st century.

African American scholars must work in many applied contexts both in the United States and throughout the African Diaspora. African American linguists, for example, must evaluate the effects of Black English Vernacular and dialect differences on classroom learning. Ethnographers must study actual schoolroom behavior in an attempt to improve the educational system for African American children. We must be involved in efforts to change the institutions that oppress African people. In recent years, many African American Studies graduates have chosen to utilize their specialized training in a variety of nonacademic careers by working in federal, state and local government, international agencies, healthcare centers, nonprofit associations, research institutes, and marketing firms as research directors, science analysts, and program officers. At present, there is no discernible limit for Ph.D.’s targeting the nonacademic realm for employment. The focus on globalization and internationalism can greatly expand opportunities for African American Studies.

The Ford Foundation and African American Studies221

Since 1969 the Ford foundation has granted more than 30 million dollars for the study of Afro-American, Hispanic, and Native American history and culture. African American Studies was envisioned and proposed by The Ford Foundation as a means to desegregate and integrate the student bodies, faculties, and curricula of colleges and universities in ways that would mirror the public schools systems that had been ordered by the Supreme Court. The Foundation began by helping a few strong institutions-among them Howard, Princeton, Rutgers, Stanford, and Yale to develop undergraduate programs in Afro-American Studies.222 “In 1982 the Ford Foundation asked Nathan Huggins to survey the status of Afro-American Studies on American campuses in light of the early experience and future needs of the field.”223 Even though, at the time, the Report was criticized by some scholars in the discipline, after almost twenty-five years his basic conclusions and challenges of the discipline remain.

Needed Research and Projects in African American Studies224

As an academic discipline, African American Studies must continue to examine and expand its research agenda, theories, methodologies, and epistemologies and to impact on the academic terrain as we move ← 36 | 37 → into the 21st century. Ideally, it must appeal to all facets of our community. At this juncture, we need to seriously consider and (re)evaluate the role(s) African American Studies has traditionally occupied: (1) Politically, has it sought to strengthen and influence the activities and policies of African American leadership? (2) Intellectually, has it created an arena and elevated the level of discourse so that the historical and contemporary life experiences of people of African descent are viewed as significant, instructive, and unique? (3) Socially, has it provided a space in which students are mentored, recognized and supported in their efforts to realize their full academic and individual potential? and (4) Culturally, has it presented people of African descent with ways of viewing the world and living out traditional African and African American ideas, beliefs, values, and mores?

The discipline needs to establish consortia of African, African American, Chicano, Asian, Latino, and Native American Studies departments that incorporate a mission and framework similar to that of the Institute of Black World.225 African American Studies needs to welcome dedicated scholars from related disciplines to engage in critical, rigorous work to improve the conditions of African Americans in all situations. Selected African American Studies departments with graduate programs (Temple, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Northwestern, and Michigan State, etc) must establish liaisons and partnerships with Black legislators, churches, the Urban League, the NAACP, and local civic and community organizations and institutions to work together to develop research projects similar to those initiated by Du Bois at Atlanta University. A variety of other links between researchers are also important. Many academic and social issues of vital significance could be investigated and completed through variegated long distance communication. By making use of long distance communication and social media, we can assign different tasks to solve a problem to different groups in different communities of the country/world.226

Research Centers and Institutes227

Within the discipline of African American Studies several research institutes have been established at Columbia University, Harvard, University of Virginia, and most importantly the Institute of The Black World,228 which was established in 1969 at Atlanta, Georgia. Research centers and institutes should support advanced scholarship in all areas of African American Studies and Culture. They should be established to generate multiyear research projects in education, health, criminal justice, economics, and public policy. They should produce research with solutions of the myriad of problems confronting African American communities.

Research institutes of the nature that was sponsored by the Black Caucus of the American Education Research Association in the 1970s at Ohio State and New York University coordinated by John and Harriet McAdoo, Reginald Jones, and Roscoe Brown. Junior faculty and graduate students should be afforded the opportunity to participate in ongoing research training institutes. The location of the consortium adjacent to a Black community would afford the opportunity for the development of relevant constructive projects as a part of the Black Studies curriculum. The cooperation between the Black community and the consortium would be a two-way learning process which should be beneficial to all.229 Centers and Institutes of African American Studies seldom have academic programs. They sponsor cultural and community programs, provide counseling and career guidance and extracurricular activities of interest to African American students. Institutes encourage and support advanced scholarship in the arts, the social sciences and the humanities.

Professional Organizations

The National Council for Black Studies (NCBS) is the leading organization of Black Studies professionals in the world. For more than thirty years [its] members have been at the forefront of driving the development of Black/Africana Studies as a respected academic discipline.230 [NCBS has a] commitment to putting theory into practice, however, [it] has also led us to the front lines of community issues ← 37 | 38 → throughout the African Diaspora. [Its] guiding philosophy is that education should engender both academic excellence and social responsibility.

The NCBS was established in 1975 by African American scholars who recognized the need to formalize the study of the African World experience, as well as expand and strengthen academic units and community programs devoted to this endeavor. NCBS was formed out of the substantial need for a national stabilizing force in the developing discipline of Africana/Black Studies. The roots of NCBS run deep in the evolutionary growth of the discipline of Africana Studies given that the organization was formed only seven years after the establishment of the first Black Studies Program in the United States. Today, the purpose of the NCBS is multidimensional and the scope of its functioning is quite broad. As an academic organization, NCBS is committed to academic excellence and social responsibility. NCBS supports their efforts by working steadfastly to:

However, in a 2005 article in The Black Scholar, the late Manning Marable, a prominent scholar in African American Studies, wrote that:

Any reconstruction of Black Studies as a field of scholarly inquiry must involve the immediate remaking of its professional associations. No one talks openly or frankly about the glaring disconnection between the tier of African-American Studies’ most prominent and widely-read scholars from the National Council of Black Studies (NCBS), established in 1975 most feminist and progressive black scholars abandoned the association in droves by the early 1990s.232

As early as 1897, with the founding of the American Negro Academy there are other professional organizations that have advanced and supported the study of African peoples and development of the discipline. These include: the Association for the Study of Negro and Life and History (1915) now ASALH, the African Studies Association (1957), the African Heritage Studies Association (1968), and the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (1982).

Pre-K through High School Curricula

The momentum for Black Studies on college campuses in the 1960s originated from high school students who demanded that Black History and culture be taught in public schools. Many of the students who were active in their local communities later went to White institutions with demands to hire Black faculty and to teach about African American culture and history. Public schools curricula, from pre-K through 12, should teach African American children our history and cultural identities. African American Studies scholar should be in the forefront of all aspects of education for our children.

The need to educate African American children requires that researchers from African American Studies departments and teachers collaborate to develop curriculum, materials, assessment, pedagogy, and research that would improve the learning and teaching process. We must develop and teach course in the public schools in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, New York, Philadelphia,233 and Washington D. C. We can assist teachers to develop African American Studies’ Advance Placement courses. Departments of African American Studies are working to develop an online course or high school students who will receive college credit if they successful complete the course requirements.234

Faculty and graduate students in African American Studies should become visiting scholars to local school districts to teach courses and offer symposiums and workshops in all content areas of the ← 38 | 39 → discipline. We should assist local school districts to develop advanced placement courses and offer distant learning courses for grades K–12. Our graduate and undergraduate students should become teaching assistants to those teachers who do not have a foundation in African American Studies and Culture. Those African American Studies departments that offer courses in African culture and African language should assist school districts to develop curricula and staff development in Yourba, Swahili, Zulu, Twe, Akan, and other major African languages and culture.

African American Studies at Two-Year Colleges235

Nearly half of African American students enrolled in colleges in the United States are in Two-year colleges. Academic programs at Two-year/Community colleges have programs that are designed to help students meet their general education requirements for transfer to four-year colleges and universities. Nationwide, more than 900,000 African Americans are enrolled in two-year community colleges. They make up nearly 42% of all Black enrollments in higher education. Blacks are 14% of total enrollments at two-year community colleges compared to 11% of the total enrollments at four-year colleges and universities.236 Because the primary mission of two-year institutions lies in providing effective introductory and survey course instruction, teachers at these schools are in a position to assume leadership in the effort to awaken student interest in African American Studies. It is incumbent upon us as teaching scholars, and upon our professional associations as support organizations, to foster collaborative relationships among all African American Studies programs and departments. Through department-to-department liaisons we can establish clear understandings concerning appropriate preparation of community college students for success in African American Studies courses. Not only can we ease transfer for African American Students, but more important, we would develop shared expectations at all levels.

E-Black Studies and Distance Learning237

For more than twenty years Professor Abdul Alkalimat has been the leading proponent of “… new media technologies, and the role of technology specifically, or the ways that educational technologies can distribute the … of African American Studies … help shape a research agenda for the scholarship of teaching and learning in African American Studies. … Black Studies is now becoming a knowledge network, using information technologies to transform its organizational life, its research, scholarship and teaching. Because the university is changing based on the new technologies along with the society in general, Black Studies faces these very same changes. Information technology is changing the context Black Studies has to exist in, and therefore Black Studies faces the challenge of information technologies as well. In this very early stage of the transformation of the university there is an urgent need to give plenty of attention to the potential of initiatives that use information technology to transform Black Studies into a 21st century discipline, into a knowledge network. … Black Studies has as its main focus for teaching and research the African American community and the entire African Diaspora. The extent to which these communities are wired is an important factor in impacting students and the utility of Black Studies IT use off campus.”238 Therefore, the focus for IT use in Black Studies must consider the campus and the community. The starting point is the digital divide. There are three conceptual frameworks for the differences between general adoption of the new technologies and the rates and styles of such adoption in the African American community. The “digital divide” concept pointed to a polarization between the wired and the de-linked. This was contrasted with a “digital opportunity” that directed attention to options to get online in public libraries and cyber cafes. Finally, the research community focused its research on the more generically neutral concept of “digital inequality.” There has been consistent innovation in digital technology so the digital inequality to be empirically measured is a moving target, from access and ownership of computers, to using specific applications like e-mail or websites, to broadband and Wi-Fi access and use.239 ← 39 | 40 →

Undergraduate Programs

The African American Studies undergraduate program features many courses and aspects of African American history and culture that have been central to the experiences of Africans in the United States. It includes all areas of academic study from the humanities and social sciences to the physical sciences. It is designed to serve the needs of all students, regardless of their ethnic or cultural background. African American Studies is an interdisciplinary program which offers undergraduate students an opportunity to study those societies and cultures established by the people of the African Diaspora. The curriculum encourages students to investigate the African American experience from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and theoretical approaches. In addition to theoretical and analytical frameworks, we focus on problem-solving in relation to social and community organizations and institutions. With an African American Studies degree, a student may apply to law school, medical school, and most graduate schools for a wide variety of disciplines. African American Studies majors go into public policy, journalism, education, entertainment, film, medicine, and law. With a strong grade point average, and solid letters of recommendation, the possibilities are limitless.

The academic and disciplinary foundations of African American Studies are shaped by its Core Curricula and its course offerings in the various departments and programs at more than 300 colleges and research institutions. The exact number of departments that have implemented the Core Curricula of the Nation Council of Black Studies (NCBS) is not known. While efforts have been made by NCBS and some scholars in the field to develop and implement a standardized undergraduate curriculum and protocols of assessment, the problem has yet to be resolved. In May 2000, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that most introductory course, when offered, focused on and taught history, sociology, literature, and psychology, and not the history, purpose, and development of the discipline. An introductory course in African American Studies grounded in the discipline is rarely offered. As a result, the tradition of the discipline and the current conceptual schemes are not taught and the fundamental knowledge and content of the discipline is not acquired. The fact that more students are majoring and taking courses in African American Studies, now more than ever, requires the standardization of the undergraduate curriculum. Table 1.3 lists several major universities that offer degrees in African American Studies:

Rank Institution State
1. Ohio State University OH
2. CUNY Hunter College NY
3. Sonoma State University CA
4. Rutgers University-New Brunswick NJ
5. California State University-Long Beach CA
6. The University at Albany-SUNY NY
7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill NC
8. University of Colorado at Boulder CO
9. CUNY Lehman College NY
10. University of California-Berkeley CA
11. University of California-Santa Barbara CA
12. Harvard University MA
13. San Francisco State University CA ← 40 | 41 →
14. University of Maryland-College Park MD
15. Oberlin College OH
16. California State University-Northridge CA
17. University of Cincinnati-Main Campus OH
18. Temple University PA
20. University of Virginia-Main Campus VA
21. University of Wisconsin-Madison WI
22. Wesleyan University CT
23. University of Iowa IA
24. University of Pittsburgh-Main Campus PA
25. San Diego State University CA
26. Howard University DC
27. Georgia State University GA
28. Chicago State University IL
30. University of Massachusetts-Boston MA
31. Cornell University-Endowed Colleges NY
32. Kent State University-Main Campus OH
33. California State University-Dominguez Hills CA
34. University of California-Los Angeles CA

Table 1.3. Institutions Conferring Bachelor’s Degrees in 2002–2003240

Graduate Programs

While undergraduate education in the discipline continues to be ubiquitous, graduate study in African American Studies has been growing in recent years with the increase in the number of M.A. and Ph.D. programs created and the number of degrees granted. Graduate departments provide special knowledge and training. In 1988, Temple University developed and implemented the first doctoral program in African American Studies. Since the 1990s, along with the creation of ten new Doctoral Programs at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Yale Universities, there has been a resurgence in the debate about the content, scope, and most importantly, the direction African American Studies will take going in the 21st century.

A doctorate is recommended for full professional status as an African American scholar, although work in museums and teaching is often possible with only a master’s degree. There are both academic and nonacademic career opportunities both inside and outside the academy that are available to those African American scholars who have earned their masters and doctorates degrees. Increasingly, Ph.D. students begin their training with academic as well as nonacademic careers in mind, and seek admission to programs that include applied African America Studies courses in counseling, social work, business, and education.

In Fall 2005, Dr. Stephanie Evans conducted a survey of the graduate coordinators at Temple, UMass, Berkeley, Michigan State, Harvard, and Northwestern to inquire about the history and state of Doctoral Programs in Black Studies. She asked quantitative questions about the makeup of the graduate populations and qualitative questions about the comprehensive examination. The results were published in an article titled “The State and Future of the Ph.D. in Black Studies: Assessing the Role of ← 41 | 42 → the Comprehensive Examination” appearing in the May 2006 Southern Conference on African American Studies’ GRIOT. As of 2014, over 180 students had earned a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University. Data are not reported of the number of Ph.D.s granted by other universities. With the 2005 program at Northwestern (and programs developed in 2008 at Indiana, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania), questions emerge about the state of graduate training in Black Studies, especially in light of the fact that no doctoral program in Black Studies yet exists at a Historical Black College or University or in the South.

Table 1.4. Institutions Conferring Ph.D. Degrees241

Rank Institution State
1. Ohio State University OH
2. Columbia University NY
3. The University at Albany-SUNY NY
4. University at Wisconsin-Madison WI
5. Cornell University, Endowed Colleges NY
6. Temple University PA
7. University of California-Los Angeles CA
8. Yale University CT
9. Indiana University-Bloomington IN
10. University of Massachusetts-Amherst MA
11. University of California-Berkeley CA ← 42 | 43 →
12. Florida International University FL
13. Clark Atlanta University GA
14. University at Iowa IA
15. Morgan State University MD
16. Harvard University MA

Table 1.5. Institutions Conferring Master’s Degrees in 2002–2003242

Ph.D. at a Historical Black College and University

In 1971, the Ford Foundation gave one million dollars to three HBCUs (Clark Atlanta University, Morgan State and Howard University) to develop courses and curricula in graduate studies in African American Studies. It’s ironic that students must attend a Predominate White Institution to earn a Ph.D. in African American Studies. To date, only two HBCUs offer Master’s degrees in the discipline. Not one of the more than seventy historically Black colleges offers a Ph.D. in African American Studies.243 It is important for the continuous development of the discipline that one of the top ten HBCUs develops a Ph.D. in African American Studies within the next two years;244 thus, the institutionalization in the integrity of African American Studies would be further recognized and accepted. There is an important tradition in the education of African people that HBCUs have provided for more than 100 years. Prior to integration, Black colleges were home for many African American intellectual giants. Howard, Morgan State, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse, Tennessee State, and Lincoln University had African-centered intellectual “dream teams.” African American intellectuals produced scholarly works in all academic areas. They were the intellectual founders of the multi-disciplines within African American Studies. Nick Aaron Ford wrote:

The Black college of the future has two possible directions open to it. It can become a revolutionary institution with major emphasis on ideology and training for the overthrow of the current political and economic system of the United States as the only means of Black liberation, or it can develop a curriculum that will devote minor attention to ideology and Black philosophical identity and major attention to cultural, historical, political, and economic studies and disciplines designed to enhance the success of the Black graduate in competing for and winning places of influence and power in the established political and economic fabric of the nation and thus help to change the establishment into a truly democratic and egalitarian system. All signs point to the latter prospect.245

Traditional Disciplines and the Foundation of Black Studies

The major intellectual and scholarly contributions to the various bodies of knowledge that comprise the discipline of African American Studies have come from academicians who received their training in “traditional disciplines.” From the early 1900s to the present, these scholars include W. E. B. Du Bois, trained in History and Sociology; Carter G. Woodson, John Hope Franklin, Vincent Harding, Nathan Huggins, Rayford Logan, Darlene Clark Hine, Paula Giddings, Gerda Lerner, Sterling Stuckey, Benjamin Quarles and Lerone Bennett, Jr., trained in History; St. Clair Drake and Allison W. Davis, trained in Anthropology; E. Franklin Frazier, Oliver C. Cox, Patricia Hill-Collins, Vivian Gordon, and Nathan Hare, Terry Kershaw trained in Sociology; Kenneth Clark, Daudi Ajani ya Azibo, Wade Nobles, and Charles Sumner, trained in Psychology; Henry L. Gates, Jr., Houston Baker, Jr., Barbara Christian, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, bell hooks, Michelle Wallace, Addison Gayle, Jr., and Saunders J. Redding, trained in Literature; Ronald Walters, Ralph Bunche, Manning Marable, and Charles V. Hamilton, trained in Political Science; Leonard Harris, Lucius Outlaw and Alaine Locke, trained in Philosophy; Talmadge Anderson, James ← 43 | 44 → Stewart, trained in Economics; Katie Cannon and Jacquelyn Grant, trained in Religion; Angela Davis and Flo Kennedy, trained in Law; Kathrine Dunham, Pearl Primus, and Kariamu Welsh, trained in Dance; Samuel Floyd, Jr., and Eileen Southern, trained in Music; Donald Bogle, Manthia Diawara, and Phyllis Klotman, trained in Film; David Driskell, Lois Mailou Jones, and Sharon Patton, trained in Art; Perry Hall, Philip Daniel, and Bertha Maxwell, trained in Education; Charles Drew, Ernest Just, Shirley Ann Jackson and George Washington Carver, trained in Science and Technology; and Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Althea Gibson, Wilma Rudolph, and Tiger Woods in Sports.

It is important to note that the above listing of scholars demonstrate the role of “traditional” disciplines in the intellectual training of the pioneers in African American Studies. It would also suggest that these scholars brought the major theories, paradigms, and philosophies of those disciplines into the field of African American Studies. Although various approaches to literary criticism, Black feminist thought, Marxism, social change theories and analytical perspectives have come from traditional disciplines, all are approached with broad interdisciplinary application. We need to clarify the differing roles of the discipline for our own sake and for the sake of the next generation of scholars, students and colleagues who will need to work in the academy’s multidisciplinary world. We need to avoid rejecting work coming from disciplinary or methodological bases other than those deemed ideologically “correct”—what about the difference between the study of Black people and Black Studies? African American Studies has primarily used ideology (not methodology or pedagogy) as a basis for staffing African American Studies departments and programs.

African American Studies and the Social Sciences

The social sciences have constructed a set of terms to explain Black people and their experiences and, for the most part, these terms have suffered from being based on sterile analytical theory that attempts to classify social reality and not explain its essential nature. The basic distinction between African American Studies and other academic disciplines that study human existence has to do with its study of humanity from a historical, socio-cultural, and linguistic point of view. Yet, because of this breadth, African American Studies links up with other disciplines in the social sciences. For example, fields of study, modes of inquiry, theoretical frameworks, and paradigms have been brought into the discipline from sociology, political science, and psychology. In African American Studies, connections between economics, anthropology, political science, sociology, and psychology are especially apparent in the study of violence, sexuality, sex role and family. African American scholars collaborate with historians, sociologists, and psychologists. There are also bonds between scholars in the discipline and the other social sciences, the humanities and the arts.

African American Studies and the Humanities

Academic disciplines such as language, literature, philosophy, and religion—the humanities—are traditionally concerned with the essences of humankind and of the attributes of a cultured society. African American Studies goes beyond the concept of culture in its common meaning—that is, conceptually, regionally, socially, and politically—and in so doing broadens the study of such creative expressions as art, dance, music, and literature. The humanities are academic disciplines that study human culture, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical or speculative, and having a significant historical element, as distinguished from the empirical approaches of the natural sciences. The humanities that are also sometimes regarded as social sciences include history, anthropology, area studies, communication studies, cultural studies, law, and linguistics.

African American Studies and the Arts

“The aesthetic and creative aspects of African Americans’ experiences require different theoretical approaches for interpretation, analysis and evaluation in the same relative measures as the humanities ← 44 | 45 → and the social and behavioral sciences. Black music, visual arts and performing arts are the products of an African-centered ethos. Each genre expresses the distinctive essence of African American art. Attempts by critics to interpret or evaluate Black literature, music, art, and film based upon Eurocentric rhythmic or aesthetic cultural art standards may lead to erroneous theoretical assumptions and distorted conclusions.”246 The cultural expressions of African Americans have shaped and transformed American culture.

African American Studies and the Sciences and Technology

African American biologists, chemists, inventors, engineers, physicists, meteorologists, and mathematicians have made significant contributions to all fields of scientific knowledge. African American Studies, as a discipline, must be involved in research conducted in all areas of science and technology. It should highlight the contributions of African American scientists in methods of scientific and technological developments. For all the hundreds of inventions and scientific discoveries by African Americans, only a few of their accomplishments are acknowledged. African American scientists have made significant discoveries that have advanced all aspects of medicine, mathematics, technology, and the biological and physical sciences.

African Americans and Sports

Over time, sports have become an important arena in the battles against segregation and racial discrimination. It’s easy to look at sports today and see progress. “The four major sports leagues long ago banned discrimination of race, and the broader fight for equality in sports has shifted today to sexual orientation, not race. African Americans, Latinos, and other racial minorities fill professional rosters and walk the sidelines as championship-winning coaches. African Americans still are woefully under-represented on the business side of sports.”247 For African American athletes, overcoming the color barrier in pro sports was only the beginning of their success. Blacks have excelled in each of the sports that they have been permitted to participate. Once are invited to a sport, they have demonstrated their dominant athletic abilities. There are many “firsts” that African American athletes have recorded in every sport. Note the outstanding performances of Black athletes in almost every sport at the 2016 Olympics.

African American Studies and Other Academic Disciplines

African American Studies has functioned in critical relation to the traditional disciplines. Its scholars have often used a range of traditional methodological tools and have pursued knowledge that assumes that the peoples and cultures of Africa and the Diaspora are central to understanding the world. This has been attempted by several authors. One scholar thinks of Black Studies and its theoretical components as being embodied in the methodology of sociology. He defines Black Studies as “the systematic study of Black people” in social rather than racial terms. All paradigms in this area must therefore be based on the “social” qualifier.248

Another academic views Black Studies as a component of the field of economics. He therefore proposes that “Blacks should be studied in the field under two approaches: (1) men of ideas, inventors, and innovators, and (2) the successes and failures of Blacks in their entrepreneurial history. The qualifier in his analysis is that although Blacks may be innovators and men and women of ideas, they may not perform the coordinating function of bringing together the “factors of production.”249 Still another scholar writes that the best approach to theory building in Black Studies is through an assortment of established disciplines “like economics, anthropology, sociology, and psychology and so on.”250

Unfortunately, for these scholars, but fortunately for “Black Studies theorists, classifying Black Studies under one (traditional) academic discipline is an impossible task. In sociology, seeing the Black experience in only social and not racial terms is ludicrous. … In economics, the fact that Blacks are not seen as important actors in the field of production smacks of ethnocentrism and the pinnacle of ← 45 | 46 → Anglo-Saxon racist belief. To suggest that Black Studies cannot exist without the covariant presence of several other disciplines represents the worst of conjectural puerilism for it sees the Black experience as the recipient of an alien academic process, rather than as one which can produce forms and mechanisms or [theoretical constructs] of its own.”251

Discipline Analytical Concepts Key Questions
Anthropology Culture, Acculturation What kind of cultural developments have taken place between Blacks in the United States?
Philosophy Reason, Truth, Logic What is and what is not African American philosophy?
Religion Beliefs, Values, Spirituality, Maat What are the functions of the African American religion and church in the lives of African people?
History Change, Chronological, Cyclical, Record How has the Black community changed in recent years?
Psychology Double-Conscious, Self-concept How has the Black experience in America affected the Black person’s feelings and perceptions of him/herself?
Sociology Values, Norms What unique value and norms have emerged within the Black community?
Political Science Power What power relationships have existed within the Black community?
Economics Goods, Services, Production What goods and services have been produced by/in the Black Community? Why?
Science and Technology Discovery, Experimental, Investigation What has been the significance of the contributions of African Americans in science, medicine, and technology?
Literature Cultural, Literacy, Heritage What are the social, cultural, and historical representations in African American literature?
Art Aesthetic, Values, Culture What are the roles and responsibility of the artist in representing African American culture?
Music Cultural Traditions, Expressions, Sounds What aesthetic and cultural traditions (if any) should be conveyed through African American music?
Education Culture, Knowledge, Skills, Values Should the purpose of African American education be to teach African-centered cultural knowledge, identity, and values?
Film Culture
Image Making,
False Representation
How accurate is the depiction of African American life in mainstream cinema?
Dance Cultural
Traditions,
Expressions
What aesthetic and cultural traditions (if any) are conveyed through African American dance?
Sport Image Making,
Cultural Traditions
What are the roles and responsibility of the athlete in representing African American culture?

Table 1.6. Bodies of Knowledge and Contents of African American Studies252 ← 46 | 47 →

African American Studies Concepts and Disciplinary Terminologies

In any discipline, we must understand certain terms and concepts to make sense of the knowledge content, methods, paradigms and theories. Unfortunately, in the discipline of African American Studies, any particular concept may be given a variety of meanings by different scholars. Nevertheless, we must know what is meant by terms we are using and attempt to operationalize them. Thus, we propose the following concepts and terminologies.

African American Studies: Although one single definition of African American Studies may be useful, there has been—since its beginning—different nomenclatures for the discipline such as Negro Studies, Afro-American Studies, African American Studies, American Studies, Afro-American and African Studies, Black Studies, Africana Studies, and Pan-African Studies. African American Studies is an academic discipline which seeks to investigate phenomena and interrogate issues of the world from an African-centered perspective.

African American Studies Public Policy: With respect to policy formulation, African American scholars need to become aware of what we have left out in constructing a specific policy and the consequences that arise when we generalize from a series of partial truths. Following James E. Anderson,253 these emphases are: (1) problem definition, (2) policy formulation, (3) policy adoption, (4) policy implementation, and (5) policy evaluation.

African American Women’s Studies: The intersecting sociopolitical variables of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation provide the foundation for the development of African American Women’s Studies. Womanist and feminist movements challenged the existing focus and paradigm of African American Studies, suggesting that the role of women in the history and struggle of African people had been underemphasized and insufficiently recognized in the discipline.

African Centeredness: African Centeredness rests on the premise that it is valid to posit Africa as a geographical and cultural starting base of the study of people of African descent. The objective therefore is to view the world from the perspective of the people studied. The Afro-centric comprehensive model for the teaching and learning of knowledge about African peoples makes possible an understanding of, and appreciation for, the social, institutional, cultural, and intellectual patterns of African people.254

African-Centered Pedagogy: African-Centered Pedagogy seeks to instill identity and purpose in African American students by creating educational environments capable of engaging students, promoting identity development and intellectual participation and cultivating a sense of belonging to the educational enterprise.255 It involves more than the teaching and comprehension of knowledge. It includes the complete integration of teacher, student, content, and community.

African Diaspora Studies: The study of Africa and the African Diaspora simultaneously assesses the outer struggle of Blacks against oppression, discrimination, imperialism, racism, and other pejorative forces, while also looking at their inner struggle to establish community, identity heritage, and a functional as well as practical and protective institutional infrastructure. African Diaspora Studies can enhance African American Studies by providing more inclusive cultural, political, economic, and educational perspectives. ← 47 | 48 →

African Worldview: The African Worldview or cosmology consists of the natural world and supernatural world, the living and the dead, the human and spirit world living side by side. It provides for an African-centered model of culture and knowledge and articulates a systematic structure for dealing with all aspects of the African and African American experiences.256

Africentric Paradigm: The Africentric paradigm consists of four basic characteristics: (a) It generates the construction of African social reality from the framework of the history, culture, and philosophy of African civilization; (b) It recognizes and articulates the basic continuity of the African worldview throughout the diverse African populations; (c) It recognizes and articulates the basic distinctness and independence of the African worldview; and (d) It projects the African survival thrust as the center of African social reality.257

Afrocentricity: While there are several schools of thought of Afrocentricity—Nile Valley Afrocentrists, Continental Afrocentrists, Afrocentric Infusionists, and Social Afrocentrists—it can be defined as “a quality of thought and practice rooted in the cultural image and human interest of African people.”

Ancient Classical Africa: Knowledge of the culture, history, philosophy, religion and science of Classical African civilization should inform the foundation for the reconstruction of a continuous intellectual history of African American Studies.258

Applied African American Studies: It is important for the “policy” component of our multidiscipline to radiate directly to our theoretical center. African American Studies must offer its expertise to develop, implement, and evaluate social factors that favor or hinder programs of economic, educational, and political development.

Arts: The arts include various genres of art, music, dance, and film. The aesthetic and creative aspects of African Americans’ experiences require different theoretical approaches for interpretation, analysis, and evaluation in the same relative measures as the humanities, social and behavioral sciences. Black music, visual arts and performing arts are the products of an African-centered ethos.

Black Gay and Lesbian Studies: Just as questions were raised about what constitute African American Women’s Studies, similar questions have been asked, but with much more conflict, about the place of African American Gay and Lesbian Studies in African American Studies and the broader community and culture.

Black Social Inquiry: Black Social Inquiry is embedded in African American Studies and argues for the development of the Pan-African frame as the most relevant one for Black intellectual activity. “Black life [is] distinctive enough and separate enough to constitute its own uniqueness and it is on the basis of that uniqueness that the ideology and the methodology of Black Social Science and [Black Social Inquiry] rest.”259

Bodies of Knowledge: Within the general context of academia and education, African American Studies has not only contributed to existing bodies of knowledge, but has also generated new and challenging fields of study, epistemologies, perspectives, and approaches for examining the historical and contemporary experiences of people of African descent.

Centers and Institutes: Centers and Institutes of African American Studies seldom have academic programs. They sponsor programs, counseling, career guidance, and extracurricular ← 48 | 49 → activities of interest to African American students. Institutes encourage and support advanced scholarship in the arts, the social sciences, and the humanities.

Core Courses/Curricula: NCBS took the lead in 1980 with the adoption of the report of the Curriculum Standards Committee chaired by Dr. Perry Hall. This report makes the singular contribution of codifying the basic parameters of a core curriculum in such a way that the diversity of ideological and academic trends in Black Studies will be able to coexist and develop within the same standardized framework.

Critical Black Studies: Critical Black Studies views the project of African American Studies as a multidisciplinary enterprise. It attempts to apply various theoretical approaches and methodological strategies to examine historical and contemporary formations in Black culture, politics, and society. See The New Black Renaissance: The Souls Anthology of Critical African American Studies, editor Manning Marable, 2005.

Departments: The primary goal of the department structure should be to provide students with knowledge of the history, culture, and lifestyles of African Americans. A department has its own budget, appoints and tenures faculty, designs its own curriculum, and serves the discipline majors and minors.

Discipline: A discipline implies a set of formally interrelated facts, concepts, and generalizations. It also implies a set of standardized techniques and skills. The components are part and parcel of a body of theory, propositions, and a subject matter. The specific subject matter is normally what separates one discipline from another. Generally, disciplines have five basic components: (1) a rationale; (2) a body of literature; (3) a curriculum based on the major areas of the field; (4) an overall theoretical framework within which the various hypotheses can be constructed; and (5) methodologies by which the various hypotheses can be tested.260

Disciplinary Model: The Disciplinary Model utilizes an existing discipline or field as a basis for examining the African World Experience. This model includes examination of the political system of the African populations and is linked to a traditional discipline or field.

Field of Study: A topic, subject, or area of academic interest or specialization that has established a precise and orderly framework. Some fields of study such as psychology, sociology, political science, economics, history, music, and religion make up the bodies of knowledge in African American Studies.

Graduate Programs: In 1988, Temple University developed and implemented the first doctoral program in African American Studies. Since the 1990s, along with the creation of twelve new doctoral programs at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Indiana University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Brown University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Louisville, Harvard University, The Ohio State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at Austin, and Yale University, there has been a resurgence in the debate about the content, scope, and, most importantly, the direction African American Studies will take in the 21st century.

Humanities: The Humanities include English, Religion and Philosophy. Academic disciplines as art, literature, and music—the humanities—are traditionally concerned with the “fine arts,” ← 49 | 50 → the appreciation of which is viewed as one of the attributes of a cultured society. African American Studies goes beyond the concept of culture in its common meaning—that is, cultivated, sophisticated, proper, and tasteful—and in so doing broadens the study of such creative expressions as art, dance, music and literature.

Ideologies: African American Studies has experienced numerous ideological shifts over the course of the first ten years (1968–1978), following the institutionalization of the discipline that revolved around various notion of inclusion. The second decade (1978–1988) was marked by a rise in interpretative challenges which sought to approach historical and intellectual information from a classical African or African-centered perspective. “Countervailing ideologies that have traditionally plagued education for [African Americans]….pose a threat to Black Studies: Black assimilationist ideologies and Black self determinationist ideologies.”261

Intellectual Foundations: The issue of African American intellectual history and the intellectual heritage of African American Studies is the responsibility of each field of study within African American Studies to question the cultural, moral, and political value of knowledge.

Interdisciplinary Model: The Interdisciplinary Model draws upon the traditional disciplines for their primary course offerings. The interdisciplinary model assumes that the traditional academic fields can provide a comprehensive examination of the African World Experience by coordinating the course offerings between the various departments.

Mdw Ntr: Mdw Ntr is the oldest and most developed forms of writing come directly out of Africa. Mdw Ntr is an abbreviated form of Medew Neter or Medeu Neter which means Divine Speech. In the Kemetic tradition, Divine Speech was the result of right speech Mdw Nfr-Medew Nefer. In ancient African tradition, listening was more essential than speaking, thus stressing deep thinking, referred to as Deep Thought.

Methodology: African American Studies needs to create methodologies that include practices, procedures, principles and techniques to accomplish the cultural, intellectual, political, and social goals of the discipline.

Modes of Inquiry: African American Studies as a discipline can make use of the analytical methods, theoretical paradigms and tools of other discipline and develop new approaches and methodologies grounded in African-centered paradigms.

Multidisciplinary Model: The Multidisciplinary Curriculum Model requires autonomous academic units. The department faculty defines the nature and content of the course offerings. The majority of the multidisciplinary program curricula are shaped and formed by traditional disciplinary intellectual thrust. Very seldom is there a philosophical or theoretical concept that underpins the design or structure of the curriculum.

National Council for Black Studies: The NCBS founded in 1974 is the professional organization which represents both Black Studies scholar/activists and Black Studies administrative units. NCBS initiatives include developing and disseminating position statements regarding the desirable organizational characteristics of Black Studies units; establishing an accreditation mechanism and promoting curriculum standardization to insure coherency and quality standardizations in history, the social and behavioral sciences, and the arts and humanities, and assessing the state of Black Studies through annual surveys. ← 50 | 51 →

Nguzo Saba: Nguzo Saba is a value system, Kiswahili for (Seven Principles), founded in 1965 by Dr. Maulana Kaurenga as a necessary minimum set of principles by which Black people must live in order to begin to rescue and reconstruct our history and lives. “The Nguzo Saba, at the core of the annual Kwanzaa celebration, are social principles dealing with ways for us to relate to each other and rebuild our lives in our own image: (1) Umoja (oo-MO-jah) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, ‘I am We,’ or ‘I am because We are.’ (2) Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self-Determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community. (3) Ujima (oo-GEE-mah) Collective Work and Responsibility reminds us of our obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world. (4) Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support. (5) Nia (NEE-yah) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community. (6) Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community and (7) Imani (ee-MAH-nee) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.”262

Political Foundations: As a natural extension of the protracted socio-political struggles involved in Civil Rights/Black Power and other student movements of the late 1960s, the initiation and institutionalization of African American Studies can and should be seen as an expressly political endeavor. Moreover, the dilemmas African American Studies was confronted with almost immediately upon its arrival on predominantly White and historically Black campuses were directly related to both the politics of academia and debates surrounding the direction in which African Americans should continue to pursue social, political and economic parity with America at large.

Philosophical Foundations: At the crux of African American Studies philosophical foundations is the attempt to create a viable system of knowledge capable of raising levels of consciousness and rescuing and reconstructing identities. In the name of the mental and physical liberation of those of African descent as well as the rest of humanity, it seeks to provide answers to basic questions about the nature, knowledge, values, spirituality, art, and other areas of human existence and expression.

The Profession: African American Studies is not only an intellectual discipline; it is also a profession. Professional achievement is a function mainly of research and publication, acceptance and approval of one’s work in professional organizations that decide future developments, and productive organization of graduate level programs of study. In short, African American Studies should consolidate around professional journals, professional organizations, and graduate programs.

Research Projects: Undergraduate and graduate student research projects, theses, and dissertations should research discrete problems and issues that affect the African community. Those departments that offer Ph. Ds in African American Studies should form a consortium that would sponsor conferences, conduct research, create new knowledge, research the Diaspora, create a publishing company and continue to produce inter- and intradisciplinary research. ← 51 | 52 →

Sciences and Technology: In Science and Technology the contributions of African Americans have been obscured. African American scientists and engineers have played a substantial role in the development of various products that have improved the lives of mankind. African American biologists, chemists, inventors, engineers, physicists, meteorologists, and mathematicians have made significant contributions to all fields of scientific knowledge.

Social Sciences: The Social Sciences include anthropology, history, political science, psychology, sociology, and economics. The social sciences have constructed a set of terms to explain Black people and their experiences and, for the most part, these terms have suffered from being based on sterile analytical theory that attempts to classify social realty and not explain its essential nature.263

Social-Community Responsibility: African American Studies must fulfill its mission to liberate African American people and to commit itself to the communities’ needs. There is an urgent need for African American Studies to provide directions to nonacademic communities so that they can confront existing sociopolitical and economic challenges African Americans are still faced with on a daily basis. Perhaps the central goal in the years ahead should be for African American Studies to have an impact on the quality of life for all African American people.

Theory: In any academic discipline, there exist varying, oftentimes even conflicting, conceptual and theoretical models, methods, and paradigms. “Theory incorporates new and alternative models and frameworks that are designed to give meaning and provide clarity to existing information, as well as to provide the building blocks for the foundation and construction of new knowledge. Theory can be defined as a system of generalizations based on empirical findings or testable empirically. The essential functions of theory in African American Studies are to provide a general orientation to the important concepts central to the discipline; establish parameters regarding form and content; formulate empirical generalizations by fusing qualitative and quantitative methods; and utilize different paradigms and disciplinary modifications in the interplay of theory and practice.”264

Traditional Disciplines: Those academic disciplines such as economics, anthropology, English, history, political science, psychology and religion that existed as distinct fields in higher education prior to the institutionalization of African American Studies.

Undergraduate Programs: The academic and disciplinary foundations of African American Studies are shaped by its core curricula and its course offerings in the various departments and programs at more than 300 colleges and research institutions.

Urban Black Studies: “Urban African American Studies focuses on (1) communities of recently immigrated country folk (urban villagers); (2) the ongoing urban links or networks of interaction; (3) voluntary associations and other institutions which residents of cities develop (or transpose from elsewhere) to help them cope with the problems of city life—urban policy, child care, women and cities, discrimination, housing finance, poverty, homelessness; (4) culture changes and the survival of traditional cultural themes in urban contexts; and (5) the problem of developing a cross-culturally useful theory of urban life and a definition of the concept of city that applies usefully in all cases.”

White Scholars: Several White intellectuals have contributed to the field of Africana and African American Studies. Prominent among them is Melville Herskovits, who is considered by ← 52 | 53 → some to be the “Dean of Africana Studies.” See his groundbreaking study The Myth of the Negro Past (1941); “Problem, Method and Theory in Afro-American Studies,” Afro-American 1 (1945): (5) 24, also published in Phylon 7 (1946): 337–54; “The Contribution of Afro-American Studies to Africanist Research,” American Anthropology 50 (1948): (1) 10; and “The Present Status and Needs of Afro-American Research,” Journal of Negro History 36 (1951): 123–47. Other well-known White scholars include Herbert J. Aptheker, a pioneer Marxist historian who contributed significantly to the documentation of African American history in general and to the preservation of the papers of Du Bois. Robert E. Park, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, taught in 1913 one of the first Black Studies courses, “The Negro in America,” and trained three major African American sociologists Frazier, Johnson and Cayton. Franz Boas was a German-American immigrant anthropologist whom some consider to be the architect of antiracist thought in the American academy. Zora Neale Hurston was his student.

White Studies/Curricula: White Studies is a system of intellectual legitimacy which defines the activities and experiences of White Western people as the universal yardstick of human existence: “[It has] attributed universal value to [its] own Anglo-American particularism, and [has] sought to absorb and distort other cultures.”265

Questions/Assignments, Activities, and Research Projects

When you have mastered the basic materials in this section, you should be able to use what you have learned to complete, interpret, and discuss (with coherent and well-developed answers) the following:

1. Define, explain and discuss the key concepts and major terms of this section. In addition, discuss the significance of each item to the formation of African American Studies as a discipline.

2. What is African American Studies? Is it an independent academic discipline or merely areas of inquiry/fields of study?

3. Provide evidence that supports why a disciplinary structure determines how African American Studies is defined.

4. Is African American Studies interdisciplinary, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or multidisciplinary? Explain why.

5. Should African American Studies as a discipline focus solely on African Americans or include the experience of Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora?

6. Develop a proposal that details how African American Studies should impact interdisciplinary knowledge and research. What problems, if any, do you foresee happening if extended relations with other departments occur?

7. How, if in any way, has contemporary academia been affected by the presence of African American Studies?

8. Create a time line of key periods of development of African American Studies (incorporate dates, events, key concepts, institutions, and founding contributors).

9. Describe the significances of W. E. B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, Vivian Gordon, Abdul Alkalimat, James Turner, Nathan Hare, Delores P. Aldridge, Darlene Clark Hine, Nathan Huggins, Molefi Asante, James B. Stewart, Philip K. Daniels, Sidney Walton, and Arturo Schomburg’s contributions in the creation and development of African American Studies. ← 53 | 54 →

10. What is the current state of intellectual, political, and ideological perspectives in the discipline?

11. Identify and research the contributions of ten individuals who are considered the intellectual founders of Black Studies.

12. Briefly summarize the various intellectual, political, and ideological struggles (among Blacks and Whites) relevant to the discipline’s entry into higher education.

13. How does African American Studies differ from other disciplines? What role and responsibility does the discipline have for the education and/or empowerment of African people?

14. What is African American Women’s Studies? Should it be incorporated into the discipline or develop as a separate field of study from African American Studies?

15. What is Black Gay and Lesbian Studies? Should it be incorporated into the discipline or develop as a separate field of study from African American Studies?

16. What is Hip-Hop Studies? Should it be incorporated into the discipline or develop as a separate field of study from African American Studies?

17. To what extent should African American Studies incorporate and use concepts, theories, paradigms, and modes of inquiry of/from traditional disciplines?

18. What concepts, skills, theories, and methods (if any) do a major or minor in African American Studies provide you that traditional disciplines cannot or do not?

19. Trace the origins of African American Studies as a separate academic discipline.

20. Identify the major fields of study (bodies of knowledge) in the discipline.

21. Distinguish between normative and empirical approaches to the study of the African American experience and Black life.

22. Compare and contrast the purpose, focus, and content of Africana and African American Studies.

23. Compare the advantages/disadvantages of a center, institute, program, and department as structures for African American Studies.

24. Define basic concepts such as discipline, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, African Centeredness, paradigms, epistemologies, theories, and methodologies.

25. Identify and distinguish between the major ideological approaches of African American Studies.

26. Identify and evaluate the major cultural and intellectual contributions of African American Studies to secondary and higher education.

27. Identify current trends and issues in African American Studies and analyze their implications for the future of the discipline. ← 54 | 55 →

28. What topics and methodologies should constitute the intellectual core of African American Studies?

29. Compare and contrast competing perspectives and methodologies within African American Studies.

30. What challenges does the University face in establishing long-term excellence in the field of African American Studies? What are the most critical mechanisms that might be used to ensure the achievement of excellence?

31. What are the critical resources needed to support a successful research and teaching program in African American Studies?

32. There are a number of individuals who are considered to be “Early Pioneers and Contributors of African American Studies”: William Wells Brown (1814–1884), George Washington Williams (1849–1891), Anna Julia Cooper (1858–1964), Alexander Crummell (1819–1898), Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832–1912), Monroe Nathan Work (1866–1945), and Martin Robinson Delany (1812–1885). Research the biographies of these persons and write a brief summary of their contributions to Black Studies.

33. Write a 10-page paper, excluding a bibliography and footnotes, on a topic related to African American Studies. The paper should either: (1) examine in detail the ideas and writings of a prominent scholar in African American Studies (e.g., Nathan Hare, Linda J. Myers, Perry Hall, Terry Kershaw, Darlene Clark Hine, James B. Stewart, Maulana Karenga, Vivian Gordon, Manning Marable, Molefi Asante, Greg Carr, Philip Daniels, Abdul Alkalimat, Patricia Hill Collins, John Henrik Clarke, Delores Aldridge, W. E. B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, Sidney Walton, Jr., and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.) or (2) a central topic or issue that comprises a central debate in African American Studies (e.g., women’s studies, Black feminist thought, gay and lesbians and the politics of gender, the debate on hip-hop and its political consciousness, the social responsibility of Black intellectuals).

34. Write a book review of five to seven pages in length. Your choices of books to review: Mario Azevedo, ed. (2005), Africana Studies: A Survey of Africa and the African Diaspora; Beverly Guy-Sheftall, ed. (1995), Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought; Manning Marable, ed. ( 2000), Dispatches from the Ebony Tower: Intellectuals Confront the African American Experience; Talmadge Anderson (1990), Black Studies, Theory, Method and Cultural Perspectives; Floyd W. Hayes III (2001), A Turbulent Voyage: Readings in African American Studies; Maulana Karenga (2003), Introduction to Black Studies; James Turner, ed. (1984), The Next Decade: Theoretical and Research Issues in Africana Studies; Sidney F. Walton (1969), The Black Curriculum: Developing a Program in Afro-American Studies; Molefi Asante (1990), Kemet, Afrocentricity and Knowledge; Delores Aldridge and Carlene Young, eds. (2001), Out of the Revolution; James Conyers, Jr., ed. (1997), Africana Studies: A Disciplinary Quest for Both Theory and Method; Harold Cruse (1967), The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual; Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith, eds. (1982), All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, but Some of Us are Brave; Armstead L., Robinson, Craig C. Foster, and Donald H. Ogilvie (1969), Black Studies in the University: A Symposium; Lewis Gordon and Jane Gordon (2006), A Companion to African American Studies; Marimba Ani (2000), Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior; Molefi Asante and Maulana Karenga (2005), Handbook of Black Studies; and Nathaniel Norment Jr., ed. (2001/2007), The ← 55 | 56 → African American Studies Reader. In general, you will be concerned with the discussion of the historical development of African American Studies as discussed by the author in relation to our discussed course materials.

35. Research and review websites and online collections for African American culture and history.

36. Join the following professional organizations: Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC), National Council for Black Studies (NCBS), and The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

37. Plan to attend the annual conference of the professional organizations.

Early Pioneers and Contributors of African American Studies

There are a number of individuals who are considered to be “Early Pioneers and Contributors of African American Studies”: William Wells Brown (1814–1884) (see his biography in Chapter 2); George Washington Williams (1849–1891) (see his biography in Chapter 2); Anna Julia Cooper (1858–1964) (see her biography in Chapter 2); Alexander Crummell (1819–1898) (see his biography in Chapter 9); Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832–1912) (see his biography in Chapter 9); Monroe Nathan Work (1866–1945) (see his biography in Chapter 15); and Martin Robinson Delany (1812–1885) (see his biography in Chapter 2). Research the biographies of these persons and write a summary of their contributions to Black Studies.

Founding Scholars of African American Studies266

Scholars who work to develop the discipline of African American Studies recognize individuals as founding fathers of contemporary African/Black Studies. These include W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) who is considered the father of Black Studies (see his biography in Chapter 2); St. Clair Drake (1911–1990) an anthropologist (see his biography in Chapter 4); Vivian Gordon (1934–1997) (see her biography in Chapter 5); Nathan Hare (b.1933) (see his biography in Chapter 5); Jimmy Garrett (b.1945) (see his biography in Chapter 9); Arturo (Arthur) Alphonso Schomburg (1874–1938) (see his biography in Chapter 2); Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950) (see his biography in Chapter 2); Russell L. Adams (b. 1930) (see his biography in Chapter 9); Robert L. Allen (b. 1942) (see his biography in Chapter 5); Talmadge Anderson (1932–2011) (see his biography in Chapter 10); Sonia Sanchez, (b.1934) (see her biography in Chapter 3); John Henrik Clarke (1915–1998) (see his biography in Chapter 2); John W. Blassingame (1940–2000) (see his biography in Chapter 2); Barbara Smith (b. 1946) (see her biography in Chapter 3); Maulana Karenga (b. 1941) (see his biography in Chapter 4); Manning Marable (1950–2011) (see his biography in Chapter 9); Nick Aaron Ford (1904–1982) (see his biography in Chapter 3); Philip T. K. Daniel (see his biography in Chapter 15); Delores P. Aldridge (b. 1941) (see her biography in Chapter 5); Darlene Clark Hine (b. 1947) (see her biography in Chapter 2); Abdul Alkalimat (b. 1942) (see his biography in Chapter 5); Ronald W. Bailey (see his biography in Chapter 9); Nathan I. Huggins (1927–1990) (see his biography in Chapter 2); Martin Kilson (b. 1931) (see his biography in Chapter 9); William Little (1941–2008) (see his biography in Chapter 9); James B. Stewart (see his biography in Chapter 10); James Turner (see his biography in Chapter 5); Molefi K. Asante (b. 1942) (see his biography in Chapter 15); Dr. Carlene Young (see her biography in Chapter 6); Bertha Maxwell-Roddey (b. 1931) (see her biography in Chapter 15); Ronald Walters (1938–2010) (see his biography in Chapter 9); Ewart Guinier (1911–1990) (see his biography in Chapter 9); Perry A. Hall (see his biography in Chapter 15); Floyd Hayes, III (see his biography in Chapter 9); Terry Kershaw (1952–2015) (see his biography in Chapter 5); Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (b. 1950) (see his biography in Chapter 3); Vincent Harding (1931–2014) (see his biography in Chapter 2); Askia M. Touré (b. 1938) ← 56 | 57 → (see his biography in Chapter 3); Alain Leroy Locke (1886–1954) (see his biography in Chapter 8); Harold Cruse (1916–2005) (see his biography in Chapter 3); William E. Nelson, Jr.(1941–2013) (see his biography in Chapter 9); Edward W. Crosby (b. 1932) (see his biography in Chapter 3); Huston Baker, Jr. (b. 1943) (see his biography in Chapter 3); Leonard Jefferies (b. 1937) (see his biography in Chapter 9); and Sidney Walton, Jr. (see his biography in Chapter 15). Research the biographies of these persons and write a summary of what you think are their contributions to Black Studies.

African American Studies Scholars with Ph.D. in the Discipline267

In the last four decades, African American Studies has produced the first generation of scholars receiving M.A.s and Ph.D.s in the discipline. Many young scholars who have graduated from Harvard, Yale, Michigan State, Indiana and Temple Universities, University of California-Berkeley and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s M.A. and Ph.D. programs are active in developing African American/Black Studies: Stephanie Y. Evans (Chair of History, African American Studies and Women’s Studies (Clark Atlanta University); Daniel P. Black (Clark Atlanta University); Greg Carr (Chair of African American Studies, Howard University); Karanja Carroll (Acting Chair of African American Studies, New Paltz-SUNY); Jennifer Christine Nash (George Washington University); Ronald Stephens (Purdue University); Jose Pimiento-Bey (Berea College); DeReff Jamison (Coordinator of African American Studies, Savanna State University); Ibram X Kendi (University of Florida); Eddie S. Glaude (Chair of the Center for African-American Studies, Princeton University); Marisa J. Fuentes (Rutgers University); James L. Conyers (Chair of African American Studies, University of Houston); Sam Livingston (Chair of African American Studies, Morehouse College); Cameron Van Patterson (Harvard University); Victor Okarfor (Chair of African American Studies (Eastern Michigan University); Mario Beatty (Chair of African American Studies, Chicago State University); Rodney Patterson Shabazz (Nassau Community College); Aimee Glocke (California State University, Northridge) and Valethia Watkins-Beatty (Chair of African American Studies, Olive Harvey College); William Boone (North Carolina State University); and Berlethia Pitts (Fort Valley State University).

Michigan State University graduates, to name a few, include: Kefentse Chike, David Davis, Rachel Laws, Rachel Harrion, Walter Sistrunk, and LaToya Brackett. Yale University graduates include: Melissa Mason, Nicole Ivy, Darian Parker, and Brandon Terry. Graduates from Indiana University are Wideline Seraphin and Samuel M. Davis. The following young scholars graduated with master’s degrees from Temple University are making significant contributions to the discipline: Eddie Glaude, Karen Lacy, Ingrid Banks, Andrew Rosa, and Suzette Spencer. Their scholarship and epistemological perspectives are informed by theories, topics, methods, and ideologies of African Centeredness.

Dr. James L. Conyers, Jr.

Dr. Conyers is Director of the African American Studies Program and University Professor of African American Studies at the University of Houston. He earned his Ph.D. in 1992 from Temple University’s Department of African American Studies. He has authored or coedited twenty-one books including: Engines of the Black Power Movement: Essays on Art, Culture, and Islam (2007); Afrocentricity and the Academy: Essays on Theory and Practice (2003); and Black Cultures and Race Relations and Afrocentricity and the Academy. He is founding Editor of Africana Studies: A Review of Social Science Research.

Dr. Shawn L. Alexander

Dr. Alexander received his Ph.D. from the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2004. He is an associate professor of African and African American Studies and the Director of the Langston Hughes Center at the University of Kansas. His areas of research are African American social and intellectual history of the 19th and 20th centuries. His publications include T. Thomas Fortune, the Afro-American Agitator (2008); An Army of Lions: The ← 57 | 58 → Struggle for Civil Rights before the NAACP (2012); and a reprint of The Aftermath of Slavery: A Study of the Condition and Environment of the American Negro (2012).

Dr. Zinga A. Fraser

Dr. Fraser is the Director of the Shirley Chisholm Project at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. She has a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Northwestern University. She received her B.A. from Temple University in Political Science with a minor in African American Studies. In 2005, she obtained a M.A. from the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University. Her work focuses on African American Politics, Black Women’s History and Feminism. Her publications include: “The Politics of Trauma: The Political Lives of Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm” (2011) and “Rethinking Black Studies” (2004).

Dr. DeReff Jamison

Dr. Jamison is an assistant professor and Coordinator of Africana Studies at Savannah State University. He has a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University. His research interests are African American culture and gender identity, community activism among Black psychologists, the psychological aspects of oppression and liberation, and the intellectual history and diaspora connections of Africana psychology. He has published articles in The Journal of African American Studies, The Griot and The Journal of Pan African Studies. He is coauthor of Perspectives in African American History and Culture: An Introductory Reader.

Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.

Dr. Glaude is the Chair of the Center for African American Studies and professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. He has an M.A. in African American Studies from Temple University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in religion from Princeton University. His books include: Exodus! Religion, Race, and Nation in Early 19th Century Black America (2000) and Is it Nation Time?: Contemporary Essays on Black Power and Black Nationalism (2002), African American Religious Studies: An Anthology (2003), Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul (2016) and coedited (with Dr. Cornel West) In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America (2007).

Dr. Brandon M. Terry

Dr. Terry earned a Ph.D. in Political Science and African American Studies from Yale University. He is an assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. His current research project is the intersection of political theory, history and African American Studies. His broader academic interests include Black intellectual and political thought, contemporary political theory, continental philosophy, aesthetics, 19th and 20th century U. S. history, the philosophy of race and racism, questions of poverty, crime, and incarceration in political and social theory, and the aesthetics and sociology of Hip-Hop and Black youth culture.

Dr. Kaila Story

Dr. Story is associate professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, with a joint appointment in the Department of Pan-African Studies at the University of Louisville. She received her Ph.D. in African American Studies and Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies, Temple University in 2007. Her publications include: “La-La’s Fundamental Rupture: True Blood’s Lafayette and the Deconstruction of Normal” (2013); “Racing Sex/Sexing Race: The Invention of the Black Feminine Body” (2010), “There’s No Place Like ‘Home’: Mining the Theoretical Terrain of Black Women’s Studies, Black Queer Studies and Black Studies” (2008), and “Performing Venus: From Hottentot to Video Vixen: The Historical Legacy of Black Female Body Commodification” (2007). ← 58 | 59 →

Dr. Reiland Rebaka

Dr. Rabaka is an associate professor of African, African American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he is also an Affiliate Professor in the Women and Gender Studies Program and a Research Fellow at the Center for Studies of Ethnicity and Race in America (CSERA). He earned a M.A. and the Ph.D. from Temple University. He has published ten books, including: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Problems of the Twenty-First Century (2007); Forms of Fanonism: Frantz Fanon’s Critical Theory and the Dialectics of Decolonization (2010); and Hip Hop’s Amnesia: From Blues and the Black Women’s Club Movement to Rap and the Hip Hop Movement (2012). He is the editor of W. E. B. Du Bois: A Critical Reader (2010).

Dr. Jonathan Fenderson

Dr. Fenderson completed his Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts in the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies. His research interests include Black Cultural and Social Movements, Black Intellectual and Radical Traditions, and 20th Century Africana Histories. His writings include: “Towards the Gentrification of Black Power”; “Expanding the History of the Black Studies Movement: Some Prefatory Notes”; “The Black Studies Tradition and the Mappings of Our Common Intellectual Project”; “Toward Organizational Dialogue in Black Studies A Critical Rejoinder to Manning Marable”; and “‘Preface:’ Rethinking Pan-African Studies for the 21st Century.”

Dr. Karanja Keita Carroll

Dr. Carroll is an assistant professor and former Chair of Black Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz. He has a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University. His teaching and research interests include the disciplinary structure of Africana Studies, the intellectual history of Africana Studies, Afrikan/Black Psychology, Afrikan-centered Social Theory and Afrikan-centered Theory and Methodology. His publications include: “A Genealogical Review of the Worldview Framework in African-Centered Psychology” (2010); “Introduction: The Dynamics of Africology (Pan African, African American, Black, Afro-American, and African Diaspora Studies)” (2008); and “Africana Studies and Research Methodology: Revisiting the Centrality of the Afrikan Worldview in Africana Studies Research and Scholarship” (2008).

Dr. Marisa J. Fuentes

Dr. Fuentes completed her Ph.D. in the department of African American Studies at University of California, Berkeley in 2007. She is on the faculty of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. Her current manuscript, The Archives of Slavery: Gender, Power and Sexuality in Eighteenth Century Urban Caribbean, reports the spatial, historical and symbolic confinement enslaved women experienced in 18th-century Bridgetown, Barbados. Her work brings together critical historiography, historical geography, cultural, and Black feminist theory in her analyses of enslaved women in the colonial urban Atlantic. Her research interests include studies of gender, power, and sexuality and post-colonial theory and Black Atlantic/Caribbean Studies.

Dr. Catherine L. Adams

Dr. Adams earned her Ph.D. in African American Studies with a concentration in Literature from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a M.A. in African American Studies from Temple University. She is a long-time member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Her current research interests include 19th- and 20th-century African American literature, especially migration, nationalism, and transnationalism narratives. Her most recent scholarly presentation was “Reading Novels to Remember Black Women on the Western Frontier Before and After the Civil War.” ← 59 | 60 →

Dr. Mario Beatty

Dr. Beatty received his B.A. in Black World Studies/History, his M.A. in Black Studies at The Ohio State University and his Ph.D. in African American Studies at Temple University. In 2007, he was Chairperson of the Department of African American Studies at Chicago State University. In 2008, he was the first African American to present a paper at the Tenth International Congress of Egyptologists in Rhodes, Greece. He published: “Hesy, Wretched: The Anatomy of a Foreign Relations Concept” (2008). He currently serves as President of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC). His research interests include the Ancient Egyptian language, history, wisdom literature, astronomy in Ancient Egyptian religious texts, comparative analyses of African cultures, the image and use of ancient Africa in the African American historical imagination, the theory and practice of African American Studies, and Pan-Africanism. He is an associate professor at Howard University.

Dr. Kefentse Chike

Dr. Kefentse Chike obtained an M.A. in African American Studies from Temple University in 1998 and a Ph.D. in African American and African Studies at Michigan State University in 2011. As an educator/activist, Kefentse has served in a plethora of settings informally and formally. During the past sixteen years Kefentse has held teaching positions at the Aisha Shule and Nsoroma Institute as a teacher of social studies and language arts. He is also the cofounder of the Detroit chapter of the African Diaspora Ancestor Commemoration Institute (ADACI). See his article “Fikira (Reflections): A Comparative Retrospective of Two Graduate School Experiences: Temple University and Michigan State University.”

Dr. Yaba Blay

Dr. Yaba Blay is a researcher and ethnographer; she uses personal and social narratives to disrupt fundamental assumptions about cultures and identities. Her writings include: (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, Yellow Fever: Skin Bleaching and the Politics of Skin Color in Ghana, “Pretty Color and Good Hair,” “White Supremacist would be Black under America’s One-Drop Rule“ and “Color Me Beautiful: A Dark Girl Reflects on Dark Girl.” Blay received a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University with a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies. Blay is founder and editor-in-chief of BLACKprint Press and is currently the Dan Blue Endowed Chair in Political Science at North Carolina Central University.

Dr. Samuel T. Livingston

Dr. Livingston is an associate professor and Director of the African American Studies Program at Morehouse College. He earned his Ph.D. from Temple University in African American Studies. His current research focus is Africana resistance movements and their uses of cultural traditions. He served as Program Committee Cochair of the Atlanta University Center’s (AUC) 2011 Nile Valley II Conference. See “Black Aesthetics and African-centered Cultural Expressions: Sacred Systems in the Nexus between Cultural Studies, Religion and Philosophy.” He is engaged in the Morehouse Global Africana Ethical Text Digital Mapping Project, which traces African social justice thinking from Ancient Egypt to the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Dr. Amy-Oppong-Yeboah

Dr. Amy Yeboah is an assistant professor of Africana Studies at Howard University. Her research interests are Africana Studies, Black sociology, African diaspora, African-centered pedagogy, education, film for teaching and community empowerment. She was a grantee of Temple’s Graduate Fund for Excellence; presenter for Scribe Video Center’s Storyville; documentary film maker and Director of Howard University’s Study Aboard in Ghana. Her writings include: “Goodbye to City Schools” and (Re) ← 60 | 61 → Inscribing Meaning and Examining the Long-View of African People on African Terms.” She received her Ph. D in African American Studies from Temple University.

Dr. Elisa Joy White

Dr. White is an associate professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She completed a Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where she also received a M.A. in African American Studies. Her research interests include lesser-examined African Diaspora sites, Black European Studies, the social and cultural dimensions of globalization (transnational, cosmopolitan, and new diaspora communities), the construction of racial and ethnic identities, and new media studies. Her book, Modernity, Freedom and the African Diaspora: Dublin, New Orleans, Paris, was published (2012).

Dr. Berlethia J. Pitts

Dr. Pitts is an associate professor of English and African American Studies and serves as the Chairperson for the Department of English and Foreign Languages at Fort Valley State University. Pitts’ research interests focus concurrently on issues related to education, African-centered and culturally relevant pedagogy; African American history and literature; and American and English Literature. Her writings include: “Black English: Beyond the Controversy and Into the Classroom”; “So the Beginning of This Was a Woman: Sexual Subjectivity in the Writings of Zora Neale Hurston, Buchi Emecheta, and Jamaica Kincaid—A Diasporic Connection”; and “Allow Her to be a Woman”—Sexual Liberation in Black Women’s Writing—A Diasporic Analysis.” She received her Ph.D. in African American Studies at Temple University.

Dr. Greg Kimathi Carr

Dr. Carr is the Chair of Afro-American Studies at Howard University. He received his B.S. from Tennessee State University; his J.D. and M.A. (Black Studies) from The Ohio State University and his Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University. Dr. Carr led a team of academics and educators in the design of the curriculum framework for Philadelphia’s mandatory high school African American History course. These materials are the first to approach African American history using Africana Studies methodology. He is a cofounder of the Philadelphia Freedom Schools Movement. He has presented his curriculum work for the Board of Public Education in Salvador, Bahia, and has lectured across the United States and in Ghana, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, France, and England, among other places. His publications include: “Towards an Intellectual History of Africana Studies: Genealogy and Normative Theory” (2007), “What Black Studies is Not: Moving from Crisis to Liberation in Africana Intellectual Work” (2011), “‘You Don’t Call the Kittens Biscuits’: Disciplinary Africana Studies and the Study of Malcolm X” (2008). Dr. Carr is the first Vice President of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations and a former member of the board of the NCBS. He is the coeditor of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations’ multi-volume African World History Project. His research interests and publications include examinations of disciplinary Africana Studies, Africana nationalism and African American historiography.

Dr. Cameron Van Patterson

Dr. Patterson earned his Ph.D. in African and African American Studies from Harvard University in 2012. His academic research examines the complex relationship between artistic practices, social discourses, and the construction of historical narratives throughout the African Diaspora. He employs critical race theory to analyze the ways in which social genres of difference influence visual art, while simultaneously recognizing the role of art and visual culture in shaping identities that transcend and transform the politics of race and representation in western culture. His most recent publications are ← 61 | 62 → “(Re) Considering Race in the Desegregation of Higher Education” (2012) and “The Place of Justice in Reconciliation” (2010).

Dr. Valethia Watkins Beatty

Dr. Watkins-Beatty received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree from The Ohio State College of Law in 1990. She received a Ph.D. from Temple University in African American Studies. Her research areas include: Black women’s intellectual history, the history of feminism, and developing new conceptual models for interpreting African women in our history. Her publications include: “Intellectual Warfare and Black Women’s Studies,” “Toward a Post-Feminist Orientation for the Study of Women in Africana Studies,” and “New Directions in Black Women Studies.” Dr. Watkins-Beatty is a former Chair of African American Studies at Olive-Harvey College. She is currently an associate professor at Howard University.

Dr. Marlon M. Bailey

Dr. Bailey is an assistant professor of Gender Studies and American Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington and is also a Visiting Professor at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at the University of California-San Francisco. His book, Butch Queens up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit, was published in 2013. He earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies with a designated emphasis in Gender, Women, and Sexuality from the University of California-Berkeley. His research interests include: African Diaspora studies, queer diaspora, race, gender, and sexuality, queer theory, Black queer studies, ethnography, and HIV/AIDS (cultural politics, research, and prevention of HIV/AIDS in Black communities).

Dr. Aimee Glocke

Dr. Glocke is an assistant professor of Pan African Studies at California State University, Northridge. She has a M.A. in Afro-American Studies from UCLA and a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University. She has published in the Encyclopedia of Black Studies and the Journal of Pan African Studies. She has written articles on “Overcoming Adversity in the Academy,” “Richard Wright,” “Katherine Dunham,” “Teaching Black Studies in K-12,” “Pedagogy in Hip Hop Dance,” and “The Present State of Hip- Hop Dance in Los Angeles and New York City.” She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Pan African Studies and was awarded the NCBS’ Community Education and Civic Engagement Grant in 2011. Her areas of research include African/Black History, African/Black Dance, African/Black Literature, and African/Black Psychology.

Dr. Serie McDougal III

Dr. McDougal III is an associate professor in the Department of Africana Studies in the School of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. He received his Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University. Dr. McDougal’s research areas of interest are Africana Psychology, Afrocentric Education, and Afrocentric Social/ Political Theory. He is cofounder of Afrometrics; he teaches courses in research methods, Introduction to Africana Studies and Black cultures and personalities. Dr. McDougal book is entitled Research Methods in Africana Studies (2014).

Dr. Jennifer Christine Nash

Dr. Nash earned her Ph.D. in African and African American Studies at Harvard University in 2009 with a primary field in Sociology. She is assistant professor of American Studies and Women’s Studies at George Washington University where she researches and teaches in the areas of Black feminisms, Black sexual politics, race and law, and the intersections of race, gender and visual culture. Her work has been published in Social Text, Feminist Review and Scholar and Feminist. Her book, The Black Body in Ecstasy: ← 62 | 63 → Reading Race, Reading Pornography, is under contract with Duke University Press. She has held fellowships at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and at Columbia University’s Society of Fellows.

Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans

Dr. Evans is Chair of History, African American Studies and Women’s Studies at Clark-Atlanta University. She is the author of the acclaimed book Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850–1954: An Intellectual History (2007), coeditor of African Americans and Community Engagement in Higher Education (2009). She also coedited Africana Studies at the Graduate Level: A Twenty-first Century Perspective, a special issue of the Journal of Black Studies. She received her Ph.D. in African American Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (2003). Dr. Evans’s main research interest is Black women’s intellectual and educational history. She published foundational texts analyzing the past, present and future of graduate training in Africana Studies.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

Dr. Kendi is an assistant professor of African American history at the University of Florida. His books include: The Black Campus Movement: Black Students (2012), The Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965–1972 (2012), and Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (2016). He earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies at Temple University. He has received research fellowships from a variety of universities, foundations and professional associations. Before entering academia, he worked as a journalist; his writings appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Dr. Lyndon K. Gill

Dr. Gill graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in African and African American Studies and received his Ph.D. in African American Studies and Anthropology (with a Secondary Field in Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality) from Harvard University. He has held postdoctoral fellowships at Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies and in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Anthropology and Center for Africana Studies. Dr. Gill is currently an assistant professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Charisse Burden-Stelly

Charisse Burden-Stelly is an assistant professor of Africana Studies and Political Science at Carleton College. She is a scholar of Black critical and political theory, radical Black political economy, Black radical intellectual thought, and the intersections of anticommunism, antiradicalism, and antiblackness. Burden-Stelly has an M.A. in African American Studies and a B.A. in Political Science and in African and African American Studies. She completed her Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley in 2016. She is currently working on two book projects: Epistemologies of Blackness: Black Studies, Neoliberalization, and the Elision of Radical Black Political Economy (2019) explores the conjuncture of epistemology, institutionalization, anti-Marxism, and class politics in Black Studies from 1975 to 2015 and W. E. B. Du Bois: A Life in American History (2019), coauthored with Gerald Horne.

Dr. Joshua Myers

Josh Myers is an assistant professor of Africana Studies in the Department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University. His research examines Black intellectual traditions and the conditions of its existence in the Western academy, Africana intellectual histories and traditions, Africana philosophy, critical university studies, and disciplinarity. His writings include: “A Validity of its Own: CLR James and ← 63 | 64 → Black Independence,” “Racial Economies of Academia: Africana Studies as Arbiter”, “The Scholarship of Cedric J. Robinson: Methodological Considerations for Africana Studies’ (2012), and “On Aesthetic Reasoning in African Studies and Clyde Taylor.” His work has been published in The Journal of African American Studies, The Journal of Pan African Studies, The African Journal of Rhetoric and Liberator Magazine. He received his Ph. D in African American Studies from Temple University.

Notes

1. Although African American Studies is considered to be a relatively new field of study in the university, Black Studies has in fact a long and rich tradition in academia. The African American scholars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who began to conduct research about and study of “Negro life and culture” represent the foundation of the discipline. See, especially, Arturo A. Schomburg, Racial Integrity: A Plea for the Establishment of a Chair of Negro History in our Schools and Colleges, etc.: Negro Society for Historical Research Occasional Paper No. 3 (New York: August Valentine Bernier, 1913). W. E. B. Du Bois organized the eleven volume Atlanta University Studies of the “Negro Problem,” and edited papers on all aspects of “Negro life.” See James B. Stewart, “The Legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois for Contemporary Black Studies,” Journal of Negro Education (Summer 1984): 296–311.

2. For the purposes of this text, the author has chosen to utilize the terms African American Studies and Black Studies interchangeably. At present a variety of terms is used to describe this intellectual enterprise, including Black Studies, Afro-American Studies, Africana Studies, and African American Studies.

3. Martin Delany (1812–1883), Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832–1912), Frederick Douglass (1817–1895), W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963), and George Washington Williams (1891–1949) undertook a number of specific studies on the African American experience. W. E. B. Du Bois was the first African American scholar to conduct the significant scientific research on the subject. Du Bois organized the eleven volume Atlanta University Studies of the “Negro Problem,” edited papers on all aspects of “Negro life.” With the Department of Labor and the Atlanta University reports he documented the facts of Black life. He proposed to complete research projects on various aspects of Black culture over a span of 10 years to investigate Blacks in education, the criminal justice system, housing, health-related issues, employment, and politics. See W. E. B. Du Bois, “The Study of Negro Problems,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 11 (January 1898, pp. 1–23). Edward Wilmot Blyden, The Aims and Methods of a Liberal Education for Africans: Inaugural Address (Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press, 2005); Martin R. Delany, Principia of Ethnology: The Origins of Race and Color, With an Archaeological Compendium of Ethiopian and Egyptian Civilization (Philadelphia, PA: Harper and Brothers, 1879); George Washington Williams’ two-volume, History of the Negro Race in America appearing in 1882 is generally considered the earliest history of African Americans. In addition to Carter G. Woodson’s 1915 founding of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASLNH).

4. The major intellectual and scholarly contributions to the various bodies of knowledge that comprise the discipline of African American Studies have come from Black academicians who received their training in “traditional disciplines.” From the early 1900s to the present, these scholars include W. E. B. Du Bois, trained in history and sociology; Carter G. Woodson, John Hope Franklin, Vincent Harding, Nathan Huggins, Rayford Logan, Darlene Clark Hine, Paula Giddings, Gerda Lerner, Sterling Stuckey, Benjamin Quarles, and Lerone Bennett, Jr. trained in history; St. Clair Drake and Allison W. Davis trained in anthropology; E. Franklin Frazier, Oliver C. Cox, Patricia Hill-Collins, Vivian Gordon, and Nathan Hare trained in sociology; Kenneth Clark, Wade Nobles, and Charles Sumner trained in psychology; Henry L. Gates, Jr., Houston Baker, Jr., Barbara Christian, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, bell hooks, Michelle Wallace, Addison Gayle, Jr., and Saunders J. Redding trained in literature; Ronald Walters, Ralph Bunche, Manning Marable, and Charles V. Hamilton trained in political science; Leonard Harris and Alaine Locke trained in philosophy; Katie Cannon and Jacquelyn Grant trained in religion; Angela Davis and Flo Kennedy trained in law; Kathrine Dunham, Pearl Primus, and Kariamu Welsh in Dance; Samuel Floyd, Jr. and Eileen Southern in Music; Donald Bogle, Manthia Diawara, and Phyllis Klotman trained in Film; David Driskell, Lois Mailou Jones, and Sharon Patton trained in Art.

5. See William Little, Edward Crosby, and Carolyn M Leonard., eds., National Council of Black Studies: Proposed Afrocentric Core Curriculum. Prepared by the National Council of Black Studies, Inc., 1981. See also Gerald McWorter and Ronald Bailey, “Black Studies Curriculum Development in the 1980s: Its Pattern and History,” Black Scholar 16, no. 5, pp. 18–31 (March 1984); and Howard J. Miller, “MCD Process Model: A Systematic Approach to Curriculum Development in Black Studies,” Western Journal of Black Studies 10, no. 1 (Fall 1987): 19–27. See also Clarence Lusane, “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on African American Studies,” Race and Reason 4 (1997–1998).

6. Ibid.

7. Transdisciplinarity connotes an intellectual and research strategy within African American Studies to create new knowledge and theory to design a single research project using selected research methodologies and paradigms. African American Studies and Transdisciplinary connect scholars/researchers in our discipline and nonacademic participants from such areas as policy studies, social work, governmental agencies, and community development organizations to research a common topic, create new knowledge and theory to solve the problems in/of our communities. In operationalizing Transdisciplinary, African American Studies can utilize qualitative and quantitative approaches or analytical and interpretative approaches that bring together the arts, humanities, social sciences, and the natural sciences. Transdisciplinarity ← 64 | 65 → combines African American Studies with a participatory approach. It applies to research efforts focused on problems that cross boundaries within the bodies of knowledge of the discipline.

8. See Karanja Carroll, “A Genealogical Analysis of the Worldview Framework in African-centered Psychology,” The Journal of Pan African Studies 3, no. 8 (June 2010): 109–34.

9. See Note 2.

10. In African American Studies, we must understand certain terms and concepts to make sense of the knowledge content, methods, paradigms, and theories. See section African American Studies Concepts and Disciplinary Terminologies in this book.

11. See the areas of competencies defined for the Department of African American Studies at Temple University.

12. For reference here, see definition in The American Heritage College Dictionary, 4th edition, Houghton Mifflin Company (2002): “[methodology] is a body of practices, procedures, and rules used in a discipline or an inquiry; a set of working methods; … The study or theoretical analysis of such working methods. Rhett Jones writes that … At present there is no organized constituency in Black Studies for methodology. Methodology mostly comes along as an ideological or disciplinary afterthought. Ideology, theory, methodology, and disciplinary are all tied together.” See “A Greater Focus on Methodology in Black Studies,” International Journal of Africana Studies 14, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2008): 262.

13. The quest for theoretical understanding of the African American experience has preoccupied many significant intellectuals, general thinkers, and activists in the American community. Another aspect of the development of Black Studies is the theoretical coherence of the field. Alternative theoretical models that serve to organize ideas and guide research have been clarified. the major theoretical perspectives that have sought to explain the historic and contemporary predicament of people of African descent. The interpretive frameworks include, but are not limited to racial ethnicity, class stratification, Nationalist, African-centered and Afrocentric models, Black Feminist/Womanist, Critical race theory and Post-modernist theory. See Wayne R. Williams, “Unified Theory in Black Studies: Insights from the Creole Language Model,” Phylon (1960–) 49, no. 1/2 (Spring–Summer 1992): 42–54 published by: Clark Atlanta University; “Towards a Grand Theory of Black Studies: An Attempt to Discern the Dynamics and the Direction of the Discipline,” Western Journal of Black Studies 25, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 75; Philip T. K. Daniels’, “Theory Building in Black Studies,” The Black Scholar 12, no. 3 (May/June 1981): 29–36.

14. See Martin Kilson, “Reflections on the Structure and Content in Black Studies,” Journal of Black Studies 3, no. 3 (March 1973): 303–12 and Martin Kilson and Bayard Rustin, eds., Black Studies: Myths and Realities (New York: A. Phillip Randolph Educational Fund, 1969).

15. See M. L. Dillon, “White Faces in Black Studies,” Commonweal XCI (January 30, 1970): 476–79. Lisa Long, White Scholars/African American Texts (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005); Addison Gayle, Jr., “White Experts-Black Subjects,” in The Black Situation Gayle ed. (New York: Dell Publishing Company, Inc. 1970), 36–42.

16. For comprehensive narratives of the development of the discipline, see introductions and chapters in the following texts: Floyd W. Hayes’s III, (2001) A Turbulent Voyage: Readings in African American Studies; Delores Aldridge and Carlene Young’s, eds. (2001) Out of the Revolution; Maulana Karenga’s (2003) Introduction to Black Studies; Talmadge Anderson and James Stewart’s, (2008) Introduction to African American Studies; Manning Marable, “Introduction: Black Studies and the Racial Mountain,” in Dispatches from the Ebony Tower: Intellectuals Confront the African American Experience, Marable ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000) and Nathaniel Norment, Jr.’s (2001/2007) The African American Studies Reader.

17. See Lawrence P. Crouchett, “Early Black Studies Movements,” Journal of Black Studies 2 (1971): 189–200.

18. See B. Cleveland, “Black Studies and Higher Education,” Phi Delta Kappan LI (September 1969): 44–46, Flournoy Coles, “Black Studies in the College Curriculum,” Negro Education Review 20, no. 3 (October 1969): 106–13; Douglass B. Davidson, “Black Studies, White Studies, and Institutional Politics,” Journal of Black Studies 15, no. 3 (March 1985): 339–47; and Carlene Young, An Assessment of Black Studies Programs in American Higher Education, ed. Journal of Negro Education 53, no. 3 pp. 199–200 (1984).

19. See Notes 17 and 19.

20. The ancient Egyptians developed a very complex religious system, called the Mysteries, which was also the first system of salvation. The Egyptian Mystery System was also a Secret Order, and membership was gained by initiation and a pledge to secrecy. The teaching was graded and delivered orally to the Neophyte; and under these circumstances of secrecy, the Egyptians developed secret systems of writing and teaching, and forbade their Initiates from writing what they had learnt. See George James, Stolen Legacy (San Francisco, CA: Julian Richardson Associates, 1976).

21. See Jonathan Grossman, “Black Studies in the Department of Labor, 1897–1907,” Monthly Labor Review (June 1974, 17–27) and Earl Wright II, “The Atlanta Sociological Laboratory 1896–1924: A Historical Account of the First American School of Sociology,” The Western Journal of Black Studies 26 165–174 (2002).

22. Ibid. See also Du Bois, The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study. (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1899) and Black Reconstruction in America 1860–1880. (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1935).

23. This textbook includes materials that are relevant to the development of African American Studies in higher education since 1968. However, the history of the field itself dates back to the mid-1800s. See Lawrence Crockett, “Early Black Studies Movements,” Journal of Black Studies 2, no. 2 (1971): 189–200.

24. See Des Virney Sinnette and Arthur A. Schomburg, “The Negro Digs Up His Past,” in The New Negro: Voices of the Harlem Renaissance, ed. Alaine Locke (1926; New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997). ← 65 | 66 →

25. Though a number of weekly and monthly journals were in existence prior to the founding of ASLNH, most were either organs of religious, fraternal, and/or literary organizations, and many were designed and written with the intent of popular appeal. The Journal of Negro History continues to this day as one of the richest sources of available data for African American Studies and historical research.

26. See Crouchett, “Early Black Studies Movements.”

27. Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for Black and White students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed state-sponsored segregation. See Richard Kluger, Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality (New York: Knopf, 1975).

28. See Harry Edwards, Black Students (New York: Free Press, 1970); Vincent Harding, “Black Students and the Impossible Revolution,” Ebony Magazine (August 1969): 144–49; James McEvoy and Abraham Miller, Black Power and Student Rebellion (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 1969); J. Saunders Redding, “The Black Youth Movement,” American Scholar 28 (Autumn 1969): 584–87; and “Student Strikes: 1968–1969,” Black Scholar 1, no. 2 (January/February 1970): 65–75; William H. Exum, Paradoxes of Protest: Black Student Activism in a White University (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1985), Ibram H. Rogers, “The Black Campus Movement and the Institutionalization of Black Studies, 1965–1970,” Journal of African American Studies vol 16 no 1(March 2011, 21–40); “Black Students, Black Studies, Black Colleges,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 22, 1971): 8; Fabio Rojas, From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007).

29. See William L. VanDeBerg, New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965–75 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993). See also Peniel Joseph, Waiting ‘til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007).

30. See Rojas, From Black Power to Black Studies.

31. The Black Arts Repertoire Theatre School (BARTS), created in the spring of 1964 by Amiri Baraka and other Black artists. The creation of BARTS did indeed catalyze the spread of other Black Arts institutions and the Black Arts movement across the nation. See James E. Smethurst, The Black Arts Movement: Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2005) and Larry Neal, “The Black Arts Movement,” Drama Review 12, no. 4 (1968, 28–39).

32. Perhaps the most salient definition of the interconnectedness between Black cultural and artistic production and (Black Power) politics can be found in the work of Larry Neal: “Black Art is the aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept. As such, it envisions an art that speaks directly to the needs and aspirations of Black America. In order to perform this task … a radical reordering of the western cultural aesthetic … a separate symbolism, mythology, critique, and iconology … relate broadly to the Afro-American’s desire for self-determination and nationhood. Both concepts are nationalistic. One is concerned with the relationship between art and politics; the other with the art of politics.” See Neal, “The Black Arts Movement”; Larry Neal and Amiri Baraka, Black Fire: Anthology of Afro-American Writing (New York: Morrow, 1968). For a comprehensive historical examination of the Black Arts Movement see Smethurst’s The Black Arts Movement.

33. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, See The Black Arts Movement.

34. Ibid.

35. Nathan Hare, “Questions and Answers about Black Studies,” The Massachusetts Review, vol 10 no 4 (1969): 727–36.

36. John Blassingame, “Black Studies: An Intellectual Crisis,” The American Scholar 38, no. 4 (1969): 561–72.

37. See William H. McClendon, “Black Studies: Education for Liberation,” The Black Scholar 6, no. 1 (September 1974): 15–20.

38. For a description of the first African American Studies program to offer an associate degree in the discipline and to receive state certification for teaching in the discipline, see Sidney F. Walton, The Black Curriculum: Developing a Program in Afro-American Studies (East Palo Alto, CA: Black Liberation Publishers, 1969).

39. See Noliwe M. Rooks, White Money/Black Power: The Surprising History of African American Studies and the Crisis of Race in Higher Education (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2006), 4.

40. See Philip T. K. Daniel and Asmasu Zike, “Black Studies Four-Year College and University Survey” (Sample Survey Results, Center for Minority Studies, Northern Illinois University, May, 1983), William D. Smith, “Black Studies: A Survey of Models and Curricula,” Journal of Black Studies 10, no. 3 (1 March 1971): 259–71, J. Albert, R. L. Goldstein, and T. F. Slaughter, Jr., “The Status of Black Studies Programs at American Colleges and Universities,” in The Black Studies Debate, eds. J. U. Gordon and J. M. Rosser (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 1974) and Rhoda L. Goldstein and June T. Albert, “The Status of Black Studies Programs on American Campuses, 1969–1971,” Journal of Social and Behavioral Sciences (Winter 1974): 1–16, Fabio Rojas, The Survey on Issues in Africana Studies: A First Report (Bloomington, IN: Department of Sociology, Indiana University, 2005); Delores P. Aldridge, “Status of Africana/Black Studies in Higher Education in the U.S.,” in Out of the Revolution: The Development of Africana Studies, eds. Delores P. Aldridge and Carlene Young (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2000).

41. 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. See Alan Colon “Critical Issues in Black Studies: A Selective Analysis,” Journal of Negro Education 53, no. 3 (1984): 268–77.

42. See Kilson and Rustin, eds., Black Studies: Myths and Realities. ← 66 | 67 →

43. Kilson, “Reflections on the Structure and Content in Black Studies.”

44. Ibid.

45. Ibid.

46. See Tilden LeMelle, “The Status of Black Studies in the Second Decade: The Ideological Imperative,” in The Next Decade: Theoretical and Research Issues in Africana Studies, ed. James Turner (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Center for Africana Studies and Research, 1984).

47. Ibid.

48. Ibid. See also Rojas, From Black Power to Black Studies; and Harold Cruse, “Black Studies: Interpretation, Methodology, and the Relationship to Social Movements,” Afro-American Studies 2, no. 1 (June 1971): 15–51.

49. Ibid.

50. See Cleveland, “Black Studies in Higher Education”; and McClendon, “Black Studies: Education for Liberation.”

51. The Black women’s movement was both an extension and an interdependent part of the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Women’s movements; however, it must be stressed that it has evolved as a distinct area of inquiry and study. See, especially, John Henrik Clarke, “The Black Woman: A Figure in World History,” Essence Magazine 20, no 4 (Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3 June 1971); Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America (New York: William and Morrow, 1996); Linda J. M. LaRue, “Black Liberation and Women’s Lib,” Transaction 2, no. 8 (November/December 1970): 59–64; Margaret C. Sims and Julianne Malveaux, eds., Slipping Through the Cracks: The Status of Black Women (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1987).

52. See Johnella Butler and John C. Walters, eds., Transforming the Curriculum: Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1991), Liza Fiol-Maata and Mariam K. Chamberlain, eds., Women of Color and the Multicultural Curriculum: Transforming the College Classroom (New York: Feminist Press, 1994).

53. “Challenging male-centered interpretations of African and human reality and the relationships which such interpretations cultivated and sustained, black women scholars produced and insisted on alternative visions.” Maulana Karenga, Introduction to Black Studies (Los Angeles, CA: University of Sankore Press, 1993), 38. See also Patricia Hill-Collins, Black Feminist Thought (New York: Routledge, 1991).

54. See Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies, editors Stanlie M. James, Frances Smith Foster and Beverly Guy-Sheftall, 2009.

55. See Note 21.

56. See Nathan I. Huggins, A Report to the Ford Foundation on African American Studies (New York: The Ford Foundation, 1985).

57. Ibid.

58. The recommendation to create the first operational doctoral program in African American Studies was proposed in Temple University’s 1986 Academic Plan. (See also the Bailey Report.) This graduate program was to include the granting of both master’s and doctoral degrees in African American Studies. Since its initiation, the department has graduated approximately 160 Ph.D.s.

59. In 1996, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, approved a doctoral program in African American Studies. The university has an extensive history in the field, dating back to the early 1960s. See “Directions in Black Studies,” Massachusetts Review (Autumn 1969). As a result of the initiative proposed by Ward Connerly and other members of the University of California Board of Regents, the approval of a doctoral program in African American Studies is currently pending at the University of California, Berkeley. The university currently offers a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies. There are ongoing discussions about creating Ph.D. programs at Howard University, CUNY Graduate Center, Brown University, University of Cincinnati and Georgia State University.

60. See Notes 11 and 151.

61. See Dwight McBride, “Preface: Straight Black Studies,” in Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch (New York: New York University Press, 2005).

62. As Black Studies [African American Studies] comes of age in the 21st century, it still has important intellectual and institutional challenges to confront. Although there are those who will forever question the legitimacy of African American Studies as an intellectual discipline, the field itself must move beyond such tiresome debates and focus instead on its continued growth and development. The wide range of ideologies, perspectives, and stances is testament to the continued evolution of the field. Indeed, the legitimacy of such traditional disciplines as History and English is not questioned simply because diverse perspectives and emphases exist—sometimes within the same department. Sociology and Anthropology have undergone profound internal struggles over their direction and purpose, yet they continue to exist as legitimate and important areas of study. Quoted in Farah J. Griffith, “Epilogue: Continuing Challenges,” in A 25th Anniversary retrospective of Ford Foundation grant making 1982–2007—Inclusive Scholarship; Developing Black Studies in the United States, Ford Foundation, 2006.

63. Republican legislators in Arizona and Texas have introduced and passed legislation that threatens to eliminate all ethnic studies programs throughout states public high schools.

64. See Notes 11 and 151.

65. See George B. Davis, “The Howard University Conference,” Negro Digest 18 (March 1969): 44–48; Armstead L. Robinson, Craig C. Foster, Donald H. Ogilvie and Black Student Alliance at Yale, Black Studies in the University: A Symposium (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1969); Derrick White, “‘Toward a Black University’: The Institute of the Black World and the Atlanta University Center,” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of ← 67 | 68 → African American Life and History, NA, Atlanta, GA, 2006; “The Black University: A Revolutionary Educational Concept to Serve the Total Black Community,” a special three part series in Negro Digest, March 1968, 1969 and 1970; Alan Colon, “Black Studies and Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Towards a New Synthesis,” in Out of the Revolution, eds. Delores P. Aldridge and Carlene Young (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2000), 287–314; and Darryl Zizwe Poe, “Black Studies in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” in Handbook of Black Studies, eds. Molefi Kete Asante and Maulana Karenga (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006), 204–24. Tilden J. LeMelle and Wilbert J. LeMelle, eds. chapter 3, “An Ideology for Black Educational Development,” in The Black College (New York: Praeger, 1969), 38–53 and Ronald Walters’, “Critical Issues in Black Studies,” Pan-African Journal 3, no. 3(Summer 1970): 127–39.

66. See Note 246.

67. See Note 248.

68. See Earl E. Thorpe, The Black Historians: A Critique (New York: Morrow, 1958).

69. See Note 11.

70. Thanks to Dr. Greg Carr (Howard University), Dr. Karanja Carroll (SUNY New Paltz), Dr. Aimee Glocke (California State University, Northridge), Dr. Daniel Black (Clark-Atlanta University) Jason Neuenschwander (Temple University-ABD), and Dr. Patrick Spearman (Youngstown State University) for the many discussions we had about—What is Africana/African American Studies? What are the goals and objectives of AAS after 40 years? What should be taught—content, curriculum, theory, pedagogy? What is the best/most effective administrative structure? Who should teach AAS? And how do we assess/evaluate the work that we do?

71. See Cheikh Anta Diop, The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and of Matriarchy in Classical Antiquity (Chicago, IL: Third World Press, 1978); Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology (Chicago, IL: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991); The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality (Chicago, IL: Lawrence Hill, 1974); Theophile Obenga, African Philosophy: The Pharaonic Period 2780–330 BC (Popenguine, Senegal: Per Ankh Books, 2004).

72. See Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, John Jackson, Introduction to African Civilizations (Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1980), Théophile Obenga, Ancient Egypt and Black Africa (London: Karnak House, 1992), Ivan Van Sertima, “Nile Valley Civilizations,” Journal of African Civilizations vol 6, no 2 (1985, 220–246). Jacob H. Carruthers, Essays in Ancient Egyptian Studies (Los Angeles, CA: University of Sankore Press, 1984).

73. See Note 19, W. E. B. Du Bois was the first African American scholar to conduct the significant scientific research on the subject. Du Bois organized the eleven volume Atlanta University Studies of the “Negro Problem” and edited papers on all aspects of “Negro life.”

74. See John H. Bunzell, “Black Studies at San Francisco State,” Public Interest (Fall 1968): 22–38. Nathan Hare, “The Battle of Black Studies,” The Black Scholar 3, no. 9 (May 1972): 32–37. Edwards, Black Students. Exum, Paradoxes of Protest. Rojas, From Black Power to Black Studies. For more information on the San Francisco State BSU movement, see William Barlow and Peter Shaprio, An End to Silence: The San Francisco State College Student Movement in the 60s (New York: Pegasus Press, 1971); Karagueuzian, Blow It Up! (London: Gambit Incorporated, 1971); William H. Orrick, Jr., Shut It Down! A College in Crisis: San Francisco State College October, 1968–April, 1969 (Stockton, CA: University Press of the Pacific, 2006); DeVere Pentony, Robert Smith, and Richard Axen, By Any Means Necessary: The Revolutionary Struggle at San Francisco State (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1970); DeVere Pentony, Robert Smith, and Richard Axen, Unfinished Rebellions (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1971); Howard Finberg, ed., Crisis at SF State (San Francisco, CA: Insight, 1969); Joseph Axelrod and Mervin B. Freedman, eds., Academics on the Line: The Faculty Strike at San Francisco State (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1970); Kay Boyle, The Long Walk at San Francisco State (New York: Grove Press, 1970); John Summerskill, President Seven (New York: The World Publishing Company, 1971); and Leo Litwak and Herbert Wilner, College Days in Earthquake Country (New York: Random House, 1971).

75. See James N. Upton, “Applied Black Studies: Adult Education in the Black Community—A Case Study,” Journal of Negro Education 53, no. 3 (1984): 322–33.

76. See Note 21.

77. See St Clair Drake, “Black Studies and Global Perspectives: An Essay,” Journal of Negro Education 53, no. 3 (1984): 226–42; Paul Zeleza, ‘The Ties That Bind: African, African American, Africana and Diaspora Studies,” Presented at the Center for African American Studies, Princeton University, April 2011.

78. See LeRoi R. Ray, Jr., “Black Studies: A Discussion of Evaluation,” Journal of Negro Education 45, no. 4 (1976): 383–96.

79. See Program objectives of Black Studies at The City College of New York-CUNY.

80. See Black Studies Curriculum Development Course Evaluations, Institute of the Black World, Conference I, C1–C28 (Atlanta, GA: Institute of the Black World, 1981); Walton, Jr., The Black Curriculum: Developing a Program in Afro-American Studies.

81. Contrary to the beliefs of many external observers and critics, there exist a wide variety of theoretical, philosophical, cultural, political, and pedagogical perspectives within the field of African American Studies. See Russell L. Adams, “Intellectual Questions and Imperatives in the Development of Afro-American Studies,” Journal of Negro Education 53, no. 3 (Summer 1984): 201–25; James Turner and C. Steven McGann, “Black Studies as an Integral Tradition in Afro American Intellectual History,” Journal of Negro Education 49 (Winter 1980): 52–53. Note from The CCNY Black Studies Program.

82. See Karenga, Introduction to Black Studies (Third Edition 2003).

83. Ibid. ← 68 | 69 →

84. See Vivian V. Gordon, “The Coming of Age of Black Studies,” The Western Journal of Black Studies 5, no. 3 (1981): 231–36.

85. Phillip T. K. Daniel, “Black Studies: Discipline or Field of Studies?” The Western Journal of Black Studies 4, no. 3 (Fall 1980): 195–99.

86. See Manning Marable, “Blueprint for Black Studies and Multiculturalism,” Black Scholar 22, no. 3 (Summer 1992): 30–35; and Manning Marable, “Blueprint for Black Studies,” in Beyond Black and White: Transforming African American Politics, ed. Manning Marable (New York: Verso, 1995), 109–14.

87. See Hare, “Questions and Answers about Black Studies”; Daniel, “Black Studies: Discipline or Field of Studies?”; James B. Stewart, “Reaching for Higher Ground: Toward an Understanding of Black/Africana Studies,” The Afrocentric Scholar 1, no. 1 (1992): 1–69; Gordon, “The Coming of Age of Black Studies”; Karenga, Introduction to Black Studies (Third Edition, 2003).

88. See Karenga, Introduction to Black Studies (Third Edition, 2003).

89. Jack Daniel quoted in, Charles A. Frye, The Impact of Black Studies on the Curricula of Three Universities (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1976), 12–13.

90. See Donald Henderson, “What Direction Black Studies?” in Topics in Afro-American Studies, ed. Henry J. Richards (Buffalo, NY: Black Academy Press, 1971), 16–17.

91. See Cedric Clark, “Black Studies and the Study of Black People,” Unpublished Manuscript, Stanford University, 1970.

92. See Maurice Jackson, “Towards a Sociology of Black Studies,” Journal of Black Studies 1, no. 2 (December 1970): 132.

93. Nomenclature has been the object of much debate in the forty-year history of the discipline’s institutionalization. The initial naming of “Black Studies” referred to the discipline in the formative years of the late 1960s–1980. By 1980, the term “Africana Studies” began to appear, to orient studies toward a fuller appreciation of the interrelatedness of the African experience globally. By the late 1980s, the term Africology appeared, which simply designated the study of African and African-descended people. The term “Africana Studies” refers to the contemporary moment in the discipline, following the arguments of John Henrik Clarke, James Turner, and others. See John Henrik Clarke, “Africana Studies: A Decade of Change, Challenge and Conflict,” in The Next Decade: Theoretical and Research Issues in Africana Studies, ed. James E. Turner (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Africana Studies and Research Center, 1984), 31–45.

94. Clarke, “Africana Studies: A Decade of Change, Challenge and Conflict.”

95. See Note 107.

96. See Daudi Ajani ya Azibo, “Articulating the Distinction between Black Studies and the Study of Blacks: The Fundamental Role of Culture and the African-Centered Worldview,” The Afrocentric Scholar 1, no. 1 (May 1992): 64–97.

97. Africology is defined as the Afrocentric study of phenomena, events, ideas, and personalities related to Africa. See William E. Nelson, “Africology: Building an Academic Discipline,” in Africana Studies, ed. James L. Conyers, Jr. (Jefferson: McFarland and Company, Inc., 1997): 60–66; Winston Van Horne, “Africology: A Discipline of the Twenty-First Century,” in The African American Studies Reader, ed. Nathaniel Norment, Jr. (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press), 411–19.

98. See Bobby Wright, “Mentacide,” paper presented at the First Annual Conference of the Black Psychology Task Force, Atlanta, GA, September 1979.

99. See A. Alkalimat and Associates, Introduction to Afro-American Studies: A Peoples College Primer (Chicago, IL: 21st Century Publications, 1986).

100. Currently, a number of different rubrics exist that relate to the study of African world people. They are: Afro-American Studies, African Studies, African American Studies, Black Studies, Pan-African Studies, Afro-Latin Studies, Afro-Cuban Studies, Afro-Brazilian Studies, and Afro-Caribbean Studies. See also the National Council for Black Studies Curriculum Committee Statement Pertaining to Definition of Intellectual Emphasis’s or Focuses (William Little, 2005).

101. Azibo’s explanation is used here. “In order to develop a matured apprehension of the concept of African-centeredness, it is imperative to understand that fundamentally what is being referred to is (and can only be) no more or less than the very foundational thought-base upon which rests the conceptual ideation that has proved to be characteristic of African people’s civilizations. Literally, logically, and historically the concept of African-centeredness means an employing of the culture, values, thought or conceptual universe of the African, as articulated in the traditional African worldview (‘African cosmology’ and ‘African philosophy’).” See Azibo, “Articulating the Distinction between Black Studies and the Study of Blacks.”

102. See Nathan Hare, “A Black Paper: The Relevance of Black Studies,” The Black Collegian (September, no 6, 1976): 46–50.

103. See Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-education of the Negro (Washington, DC: Associated Publishers, Inc., 1969).

104. See C. E. Wilson, “Case for Black Studies,” Educational Leadership XXVII (December 1969): 218–21. Donald B. Easum, “The Call for Black Studies,” Africa Report 14 (May/June 1969): 16–22; Charles V. Hamilton, “The Question of Black Studies,” Phi Delta Kappan 57, no. 7 (March 1970): 362–64; Cleveland, “Black Studies in Higher Education”; Ronald Bailey, “Why Black Studies?” The Education Digest 35, no. 9 (1970): 41–47.

105. See McClendon, “Black Studies: Education for Liberation.” C. Eric Lincoln, “Black Studies and Cultural Continuity,” Black Scholar 10, no. 2 (October 1978): 12–17; A. H. Yee and M. J. Fruth, “Do Black Studies Make a Difference in Ghetto Children’s Achievement and Attitudes?” Journal of Negro Education 42 (Winter 1973): 33–38 and James Banks, “Teaching African American Studies for Social Changes,” in Black Scholars in Higher Education in the 1970’s, ed. Roosevelt Johnson (Columbus, OH: ECCA Publications, 1974).

106. See J. A. Johnson, et al., Introduction to the Foundations of American Education (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1969), 12–13. ← 69 | 70 →

107. See Alejandro Portes and Kenneth L. Wilson, “Black–White Differences in Educational Achievement,” American Sociological Review 4 (June 1976): 414–31; Amy J. Orr, “Black-White Differences in Achievement: The Importance of Wealth,” Sociology of Education 76, no. 4 (October 2003): 281–304; Jacob H. Carruthers, Intellectual Warfare (Chicago, IL: Third World Press, 1999); Raymond H. Giles, Black Studies Programs in Public Schools (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974); Paul Barton and Richard Coley, “The Black-White Achievement Gap When Progress Stopped,” Policy Information Report, 2010; Richard Rothstein, Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap (Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute, 2004).

108. See Marilyn S. Thompson, et al., “Understanding Differences in Post-Secondary Educational Attainment: A Comparison of Predictive Measures for Black and White Students,” Journal of Negro Education 75 (Summer 2006): 546–62; Grace Kao and Jennifer S. Thompson, “Racial and Ethnic Stratification in Educational Achievement and Attainment,” Annual Review of Sociology 29 (2003): 417–42. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education 2011 (NCES 2011–033, 2011), Indicator 17.

109. Y. R. Bell and T. R. Clark, “Culturally Relevant Reading Material as Related to Comprehension and Recall in African American Children,” Journal of Black Psychology 24 (1998): 455–75.

110. See Bobby Wright, The Psychopathic Racial Personality (Chicago, IL: Third World Press, 1985).

111. See Carruthers, Intellectual Warfare; J. E. Hale, Learning while Black: Creating Educational Excellence for African American Children (Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press, 2001).

112. See H. G. Peske and K. Haycock, How Poor and Minority Students are Shortchanged on Teacher Quality (Washington, DC: The Education Trust, 2006). J. L. Moore, III and D. Owens, “Educating and Counseling African American Students: Recommendations for Teachers and School Counselors,” in The Sage Handbook of African American Education ed. L. Tillman (Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2008), 351–66. U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education 2011 (NCES 2011–033).

113. See Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton, Black Power. The Politics of Liberation in America (New York: Vintage, 1967); William L. Van DeBurg, New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965–1975 (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1992); John T. McCartney, Black, Power Ideologies: An Essay in African-American Political Thought (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1992); Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman in America. Muhammad’s Temple No. 2, 1965.

114. The role of Black Studies programs is not to impose ideologies but to expand consciousness and to present alternatives for action. It is not to try to foreclose options that are open to Black students, but to make all options clear so that choices can be made with better understanding. It is to help students discover for themselves where the fine line runs between being patriotic and being co-opted for ends that are not in the best interests of the broadest masses of Black people. Quoted in Drake’s “Black Studies and Global Perspectives”.

115. See Amos Wilson, Blueprint for Black Power: A Moral, Political and Economic Imperative for the Twenty First Century (New York: African World Infosystem, 1998). Michael A. Gomez, Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1998) and Carruthers, Intellectual Warfare.

116. See Adams, “Intellectual Questions and Imperatives in the Development of Afro-American Studies”; Greg Kimathi Carr, “African Philosophy of History in the Contemporary Era: Its Antecedents and Methodological Implications for the African Contribution to World History,” Doctoral Dissertation, Temple University (April 10, 1998): 125–27. For a general discussion of the strains of thought in Africana intellectual and social/political thought, see Cedric Robinson, Black Movements in America (New York: Routledge, 1997), 96–97, Harold Cruse, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual: A Historical Analysis (New York: William Morrow, 1967), as well as Carruthers, Intellectual Warfare and Mdw Ntr, 1–2.

117. Hare, “Questions and Answers about Black Studies.”

118. See Gordon, “The Coming of Age of Black Studies.”

119. Inez Smith Reid, “An Analysis of Black Studies Programs,” Afro-American Studies 1 (1970): 11–21.

120. See Cruse, “Black Studies: Interpretation, Methodology, and the Relationship to Social Movements.”

121. See McClendon, “Black Studies: Education for Liberation.”

122. Stewart, “Reaching for Higher Ground.”

123. See Note 91.

124. Charles V. Hamilton, “The Challenge of Black Studies,” Social Policy 1, no. 2 (1970): 16.

125. Each university/department has its own Mission Statement which is influenced by the history, culture, purpose, and structure of the particular university. The primary or central mission of the African and African American Studies is academic. It serves those students interested in acquiring a more intellectually holistic understanding of the cultural contributions and historical legacies of peoples of predominantly African ancestry. A major component of its mission is to teach and encourage students how to critique the world from the perspective and world view of Africana (Black) peoples. This allows for greater clarity in properly assessing the impact Africana peoples have had upon countless aspects of the collective human experience.

126. The National Council for Black Studies Mission Statement.

127. See Ewart Guinier, “Black Studies: Training for Leadership,” Freedomways XV (1975): 196.

128. See Ray, Jr., “Black Studies: A Discussion of Evaluation.”

129. See Black Studies: Issues in Their Institutional Survival (Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1976). ← 70 | 71 →

130. We need to support those professional and community organizations that advance the mission, purpose, intellectual development, and community responsibility required of scholars and students in African American Studies. See Stephanie Y. Evans, Colette Taylor, Michelle Dunlap, and DeMond Miller, eds., African Americans and Community Engagement in Higher Education: Community Service, Service-learning, and Community-based Research (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2009).

131. See Nathaniel Norment, Jr., “Needed Research and Related Projects in African American Studies,” in The African American Studies Reader-2nd Edition, ed. Nathaniel Norment, Jr. (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2007), 832–47 and “The Fields and Functions of African American Studies and Public Policy,” in Africana Cultures and Policy Studies: Scholarship and the Transformation of Public Policy, ed. Zachery Williams (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, June 2009), 15–31.

132. See Note 139.

133. See Walters’ “Critical Issues on Black Studies.”

134. Ibid.

135. See Norment, Jr., “Needed Research and Related Projects in African American Studies.”

136. See Bailey, “Why Black Studies?”

137. The distinguishing characteristics of Black Studies as a distinct multidiscipline are found in the nature of its domain. Black Studies is concerned with the questions that arise about Black culture, or Black culture as it influences or is influenced by other cultures. For a complete definition of the term “multidiscipline” used in the African American/Black Studies context see Philip T. K. Daniel, “Black Studies: Discipline or Field of Study?” The Western Journal of Black Studies 4, no. 4 (1980): 195–200.

138. A solid African American Studies program provides a solid liberal arts education, teaching students to read, write effectively, to think critically, to conduct research, to see the complexity of the world and to articulate ideas. It challenges students on a variety of levels with complexity and even ideas and views that the students may reject. African American Studies is as good a major as any other in the humanities and social sciences. Such an education prepares a student for many professional programs, such as law, business, journalism, education, communications, public administration, and international relations. It also prepares students for a complex world where diverse skills are essential.

139. Most African American Studies Departments have a statement about the purpose, goals, objectives, and mission for majoring in the discipline. In most cases, the mission statement represents the general goals and objectives of the discipline. It also references the particular academic mission and culture of the individual institution. See the mission statements of the departments that offer Ph.D.s—University of California-Berkeley, Harvard University, Indiana University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Temple University (1st Ph.D.), University of Massachusetts-Amherst (2nd Ph.D.), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

140. From Webpage of Northeastern University-Department African American Studies.

141. A select listing of some notable African American Studies majors: Mae Jemison, astronaut and first woman of color to travel into space; Sanaa Lathan, actress; Thelma Golden, museum director; Angela Bassett, actress; Aaron McGruder, political cartoonist; Gloria Naylor, novelist; Claudia Thomas, first Black female orthopedic surgeon in the United States; Lisa “Sista Souljah” Williamson, rapper and activist; Judge Richard Roberts, lawyer and judge; Carl Andrews, New York senator; Vince Carter, professional basketball superstar; Anita Wells, clinical psychologist; Marc Morial, director of the Urban League; former New Orleans mayor and senator; Jendayi Frazer, Senior Director of African Affairs at the National Security Council; Rochelle Brown, producer of “Emeril Live”; Nicole Childers, executive producer of National Public Radio (NPR); Ethelbert Miller, poet, author, and professor; Jill Nelson, novelist and freelance journalist; Antoinette Jackson, Habitat for Humanity board chair; Peter Bouckaret, emergency director for Human Rights Watch; Joseph Brown, Catholic priest, author; Cheryl Sanders, pastor of Third Street Church in Washington, DC; Allan W. Houston, Jr., pro basketball star; and many other individuals in the fields of education, sports, entertainment, politics, media, business, military services, law, medicine, art and science.

142. See Mike Thelwell, “Black Studies: A Political Perspective,” Massachusetts Review X (Autumn 1969): 710. It is important that we emphasize the two equally important considerations that are basic to the concept of Black Studies. The first requires an autonomous interdisciplinary entity, capable of coordinating its curriculum in traditional disciplines, to ensure an historical, substantive progression and organic coherence in its offerings. The second function, which is no less crucial, requires this entity be sufficiently flexible to create programs that involve students in field study and social action projects in Black communities. He continues the concept of Black Studies requires “an autonomous interdisciplinary entity, capable of coordinating its curriculum in traditional disciplines to ensure an historical, substantive progression and organic coherence in its offerings.”

143. See Note 6.

144. The African Worldview or cosmology consists of the natural world and supernatural World, the living and the dead, the human and spirit world living side by side. It provides for an African-Centered model of culture and knowledge and articulates a systematic structure for dealing with all aspects of the African and African American experiences. See Russell Adams, “Epistemological Considerations in Afro-American Studies,” in Out of the Revolution: The Development of Africana Studies, eds. Delores P. Aldridge and Carlene Young (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2000), 39–58. Also, the African worldview is centered around the beliefs that: The highest value of life lies in the interpersonal relationships between men; One gains knowledge through symbolic imagery and rhythm; One should live in harmony with nature; There is a oneness between humans and nature; The survival of the group holds the utmost importance; Men should appropriately utilize the materials around them; One’s self is complementary to others; Change occurs in a natural, ← 71 | 72 → evolutionary cycle; Spirituality and inner divinities hold the most significance; There are a plethora of deities to worship; Cooperation, collective responsibility, and interdependence are the key values to which all should strive to achieve; All men are considered to: be equal, share a common bond, and be a part of the group; The African worldview is a circular one, in which all events are tied together with one another. See http://dickinsg.intrasun.tcnj.edu/diaspora/views.html

145. “White[ness] Studies is an attempt to think critically about how white skin preference has operated systematically, structurally, and sometimes unconsciously as a dominant force in American—and indeed in global—society and culture. See also Whiteness studies is an interdisciplinary arena of academic inquiry focused on what proponents describe as the cultural, historical and sociological aspects of people identified as white, and the social construction of whiteness as an ideology tied to social status.” (Wikipedia)

146. The European worldview is centered around the beliefs that: The highest value of life lies in the object, or in the acquisition of the object; One gains knowledge through counting and measuring; One should control and dominate nature; There is a dichotomy, or separateness, between nature and humans; The survival of the fittest holds the utmost importance; Men should have an unlimited exploitation of the materials around them; One’s self is distinct from others; Change occurs to meet the immediate objectives, and is quite arbitrary; A distant, impersonal god holds the most significance; There is only one supreme deity to worship; Competition, independence, separateness, and individual rights are the key values to which all should strive to achieve; All men are considered to be individualistic, unique, and different; The Eurocentric worldview is a linear one, in which all events are separate and there is no togetherness. See http://dickinsg.intrasun.tcnj.edu/diaspora/views.html

147. See Azibo, “Articulating the Distinction between Black Studies and the Study of Blacks.” See also Karenga, “Black Studies and the Problematic of Paradigm,” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 18, no. 4 (June 1988, 395–414); Stewart, “The Legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois for Contemporary Black Studies.”

148. See L. Semaj, “Cultural Science,” in African Psychology in Historical Perspective and Related Commentary, ed. D. Azibo (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1997).

149. See Note 158.

150. Ibid.

151. See W. C. Swindell, “Black Studies and the Community Obligation,” Minority Voices 11, no. 1 (1988): 16–18.

152. Karenga, Introduction to Black Studies, 504–505.

153. In 1980, the NCBS proposed and adopted the Report of the Curriculum Standards Committee chaired by Dr. Perry Hall. The document provided a general framework for the development of Black Studies courses in three basic areas: (1) Social Behavioral Studies; (2) Historical studies; (3) Cultural Studies; See also Smith, “Black Studies: A Survey of Models and Curricula,” 269–77.

154. See Little et al., National Council of Black Studies. See also McWorter and Bailey, “Black Studies Curriculum Development in the 1980s”; and Miller, “MCD Process Model.” See also Lusane, “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on African American Studies.”

155. Ibid.

156. Ibid.

157. Ibid.

158. Ibid.

159. Ibid.

160. Ibid.

161. The NCBS Commission proposed standards and policies related to assessment, curriculum, academic program review, and related areas for Africana Studies departments and programs across the country and abroad. The Commission serves institutions of higher learning and the public by reviewing programs and ensuring quality and rigor in the field of Africana Studies. See Charles Jones, Adele Newson-Horst, Alfred Young and Shawrece Miller, “Affecting Institutionalization: Assessment of Student Learning in Africana Studies,” Journal of Black Studies, vol 39, no1 (2008): 43–56.

162. See Home Page of Morehouse College Department of African American Studies.

163. Quoted in Talmadge Anderson, Black Studies, Theory, Method and Cultural Perspectives (Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press, 1990).

164. The discipline needs to develop theoretical frameworks for analysis of the African American experience. In any academic discipline, there exist varying, oftentimes even conflicting, conceptual and theoretical models, methods, and paradigms. Theory incorporates new and alternative models and frameworks that are designed to give meaning and provide clarity to existing information, as well as to provide the building blocks for the foundation and construction of new knowledge. Theory can be defined as a system of generalizations based on empirical findings or testable empirically. The essential functions of theory in African American Studies are to provide a general orientation to the important concepts central to the discipline; establish parameters regarding form and content, formulate empirical generalizations by fusing qualitative and quantitative methods; utilize different paradigms and disciplinary modifications in the interplay of theory and practice. See James Conyers, Jr., Africana Studies: A Disciplinary Quest for Both Theory and Method (Jefferson: MacFarland, 1997), Daniels, “Theory Building in Black Studies”; Lucius Outlaw, “Africology and Normative Theory” in On Race and Philosophy. Taylor and Francis, Inc. Routledge, Inc. (1996); and Lewis Gordon and Jane Gordon, Not Only the Master’s Tools: African American Studies in Theory and Practice (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2005).

165. Ibid.

166. McWorter and Bailey, “Black Studies Curriculum Development in the 1980s.” ← 72 | 73 →

167. See “Toward a Paradigm of Unity in Black Studies,” in Paradigms in Black Studies, ed. Abdul Alkalimat (Chicago, IL: Twenty-First Century Books and Publications, 1990); Terry Kershaw, “The Emerging Paradigm in Black Studies,” Western Journal of Black Studies 13, no. 1 (Spring 1989): 45–51; Perry Hall, “Paradigms in Black Studies,” in Out of the Revolution: The Development of Africana Studies, eds. Delores P. Aldridge and Carlene Young (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2000), 25–37; James B. Stewart, “Riddles, Rhythms, and Rhymes: Toward an Understanding of Methodological Issues and Possibilities in Black/Africana Studies,” in Ethnic Studies Research: Approaches and Perspectives, ed. Timothy Fong (Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2008), 185–92. For a recent discussion on paradigms in the discipline, see Yusuf Nuruddin, “Africana Studies: Which Way Forward–Marxism or Afrocentricity? Neither Mechanical Marxism nor Atavistic Afrocentrism,” Socialism and Democracy 25 (March 2011): 93–125.

168. See Molefi Kete Asante, Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change (Buffalo, NY: Amulefi, 1980).

169. See Maulana Karenga, Kawaida Theory: An Introductory Outline (Inglewood, CA: Kawaida Publications, 1980).

170. See Clarence J. Munford, Production Relations, Class and Black Liberation: A Marxist Perspective in Afro-American Studies (Amsterdam: B. R. Brüner, 1978).

171. Quoted in The African American Studies Reader-2nd Edition, ed. Nathaniel Norment, Jr., (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2007), 460.

172. See Sujjiin Kiim, “Research Paradigms in Organizational Learning and Performance: Competing Modes of Inquiry,” Information Technology, Learning, and Performance Journal 21, no. 1 9–18 (Spring 2003).

173. This theoretical schema was developed as a class assignment for Proseminar in Graduate Work in African American Studies AAS 8001(AAS400) at Temple University.

174. For reference here, see definition in The American Heritage College Dictionary, 4th edition, Houghton Mifflin Company (2002). “The procedures and techniques characteristic of a particular discipline or field of knowledge … Research Methods for African American Studies must be interdisciplinary when applied to the study of African American communities; qualitative and quantitative research methods in the discipline must examine theoretical and conceptual issues, techniques, methods of social research and data collection.”

175. See Note 28.

176. See Jerome Harris and William McCullough, “Quantitative Methods and Black Community Studies,” in The Death of White Sociology, ed. Joyce A. Ladner (New York: Vintage Books, 1973), Stewart, “Riddles, Rhythms, and Rhymes,” Ronald L. Taylor, “The Study of Black People; A Survey of Empirical and Theoretical Models,” Urban Research Review 11, no. 2 (1987); Clovis E. Semmes, “Foundations of Afro-centric Social Science: Implications for Curriculum Building, Theory and Research in Black Studies,” Journal of Black Studies 12 (September 1981): 3–17; L. King, V. Dixon and W. Nobles, eds., African Philosophy: Assumptions and Paradigms for Research on Black Persons (Los Angeles, CA: Fanon Center Publications, 1976).

177. Vernon J. Dixon, “Worldviews and Research Methodology,” in African Philosophy: Assumption and Paradigms for Research on Black Persons, eds. Lewis King et al. (Los Angeles, CA: Fanon R and D Center, 1976), 51–102.

178. At present there is no organized or operationalizable theory or research methodology in African American Studies. For a recent discussion about this, see Jones, “A Greater Focus on Methodology in Black Studies,” 260–65.

179. See Norment, Jr., “Needed Research and Related Projects in African American Studies.”

180. I propose these multidisciplinary methodologies to develop research strategies and theories for African American Studies.

181. This paradigm is proposed by this author.

182. One of the missions of African American Studies is its responsibility to build and empower our communities. The core principles of African American Studies embrace a commitment to serve the community and to enhance community access to the University’s resources where access has been heretofore limited and thus build relationships between the University and Black communities. Community action programs and all such practical work are not much valued by traditional academics who tend to regard them as activities of questionable merit for undergraduate training. On this question of community work and Black Studies, see Kenneth B. Clark, “A Charade of Power,” Antioch Review XXIX (Summer 1969): 145–48; Swindell, “Black Studies and the Community Obligation”; Vincent Harding, “Responsibilities of the Black Scholar to the Community,” in The State of Afro-American History, ed. Darlene Clark Hine (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986), 277–84 and John Runcie, “The Black Culture Movement and the Black Community,” Journal of American Studies 10, no. 2 (1976): 185–214.

183. See Norment, Jr., “Needed Research and Related Projects in African American Studies.”

184. See, McClendon, “Black Studies: Education for Liberation.”

185. See G. Ladson-Billings, “Toward a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy,” American Educational Research Journal 31, no. 3 (Autumn 1995): 465–91; G. Gay, Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice (New York: Teachers College Press, 2000); P. Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Continuum, 1970); and Peter C. Murrell Jr., African-Centered Pedagogy: Developing Schools of Achievement for African American Children (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2002).

186. See Daniel, “Theory Building in Black Studies.”

187. See Norment, Jr., “The Fields and Functions of African American Studies and Public Policy.”

188. From Norment, Jr., “The Fields and Functions of African American Studies and Public Policy.”

189. In 2006, Temple University’s Department of African American Studies received funding through Pennsylvania’s State Representative Dwight Evans to establish the Center for African American Research and Public Policy (CAARPP). Dr. Nathaniel Norment, Jr. and Dr. Thaddeus Mathis were codirectors. Its mission is to encourage public discourse and ← 73 | 74 → produce scholarly information on issues, policies, and trends affecting African Americans. The goal of the Center is to achieve a positive change in the present and future lives of African Americans through public discourse and community and public service. The objectives are: (1) to develop and promote a well-defined research agenda to identify problems, create interventions, and evaluate progress; (2) to utilize existing databases to better understand current issues facing African American communities; and (3) to create an Annual report on the State of Black Philadelphia and disseminate it to state and local policy makers.

190. This diagram was developed by the author.

191. Africana Diaspora Studies, contrary to some accounts, is not a separate continent in the world of American higher education. Its intellectual borders touch those of economics, literature, history, philosophy, and art; its history is the story of the world, both ancient and modern. See Tejjumola Olaniyan and James H. Sweet, The African Diaspora and the Discipline (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2010); Darlene Clark Hine, Trica Keaton and Stephen Small, Black Europe and the African Diaspora (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009); Isidore Okpewho and Nkiru Nzeqwu, The New African Diaspora (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2000); John Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World: 1400–1800 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Toyin Faola and Christian Jennings, Africanizing Knowledge: Africana Studies Across the Disciplines (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2002); Isidore Okpewho, Carol Boyce Davies and Ali Mazuri, The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001); Robert Bates, V. Y. Mudimbe and Jean F. O’Barr, Africa and the Disciplines: The Contributions of Research in African to the Social Sciences (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993); Patrick Manning, The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010); Michael Gomez, Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004); and Michael Conniff and Thomas Davis, Africans in the Americas: A History of the Black Diaspora (Caldwell, NJ: The Blackburn Press, 2002).

192. See Guy Martin and Carlene Young, “The Paradox of Separate and Unequal: African Studies and Afro-American Studies,” Journal of Negro Education 53, no. 3 (1984): 257–65.

193. See Drake, “Black Studies and Global Perspectives.” See also Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993) and Sidney Lemelle and Robin D. G. Kelley, eds., Imagining Home: Nationalism in the African Diaspora (London: Verso, 1994).

194. See Clarke, “Africana Studies: A Decade of Change, Challenge, and Conflict.”

195. It is estimated that there are more than thirty African American Studies programs that offer their students opportunities to study abroad in countries such as Botswana, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, and several European countries.

196. Hip-hop refers to the entire culture among Black and brown youth, while RAP, as an element of the culture, is a musical method of delivering messages to the hip-hop community though lyrical rhymes similar to poetry. Gangsta Rap is one subgenre of the rapping element of hip-hop culture, and usually involves resisting middle-class values and adheres to values that reflect street authenticity. See The Hip hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture by Bakari Kitwana, 2002; Droppin’ Science: Critical Essays on Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture (Critical Perspectives on the Past) by William Eric Perkins, 1995; Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation by Jeff Chang and D. J. Kool Herc, 2005; Hip Hop Culture by Emmett Price, 2006; Bring the Noise: A Guide to Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture by Havelock Nelson, 1991; Black in School: Afrocentric Reform, Urban Youth and the Promise of Hip-Hop Culture by Shawn A. Ginwright, 2004; The Hip hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture by Bakari Kitwana, 2002; Stand and Deliver: Political Activism, Leadership, and Hip Hop Culture by Yvonne Bynoe, 2004; Imani Perry, Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip-Hop (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004); Byron Hurt, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. DVD-ROM (Media Education Foundation, 2006; Mark Anthony Neal, What The Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (New York: Routledge, 1999); Tamara Palmer, Country Fried Soul: Adventures in Dirty South Hip-Hop (Milwaukee, MI: BackBeat Books, 2005); Trisha Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Hanover, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1994); Joseph Eure and James G. Spady, eds., Nation Conscious Rap (Brooklyn, NY: PC International Press, 1991); Charise L. Cheney, Brothers Gonna Work It Out: Sexual Politics in the Golden Age of Rap Nationalism (New York: New York University Press, 2005); Nelson George, Hip-Hop America (New York: Penguin Books, 1998); Murray Foreman and Mark Anthony Neal, eds., That’s The Joint! The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (New York: Routledge, 2004).

197. Quoted from the Home Page of The Hiphop Archives at Harvard University W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African And African American Research. See The Hip hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture by Bakari Kitwana, 2002.

198. Ibid.; in 2001, Temple University’s Department of African American Studies offered one of the first course on Hip-Hop and Black Culture in higher education.

199. See Note 209.

200. Ibid.

201. Valethia Watkins poses the question, “Is Black Women Studies a subfield of traditional Women’s Studies, a subfield of African American Studies or is it striving to become a separate and free-standing discipline disconnected from both African American Studies and traditional Women’s Studies or some combination of the above?” For further discussion see But Some of Us Are Brave: All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men: Black Women’s Studies by Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith, 1982; Black Feminist Cultural Criticism by Jacqueline Bobo, 2001; Black Women in White ← 74 | 75 → America: A Documentary History by Gerda Lerner, 1992; Black Women Durban 1975: Case Studies of African Coloured and Indian Women in the Durban Area by G. G. Cele, P. Pillay, L. Ruiters, and V. Dlomo, 1975, Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought, edited by Beverly Guy-Sheftall, 1995, Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, editors Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, 1993, Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies, editors Stanlie M. James, Frances Smith Foster and Beverly Guy-Sheftall, 2009. Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, Tiffany R. L. Patterson, and Lillian S. Williams, eds., Black Women in United States History from Colonial Times Through the Nineteenth Century. 16 vols, (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1990); Darlene Clark Hine with Kathleen Thompson, Facts on File Encyclopedia of Black Women. 12 vols (New York: Facts on File, 1997).

202. The creation in 1969 at San Diego State University of the first Women’s Studies program marked the emergence of Women’s Studies as a distinct entry within higher education in the United States. Some two decades later Clark and Emory Universities pioneered the Women’s Studies Ph.D.s. According to the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), by 2009, there were more than 600 departments and programs and 10,000 courses in Women Studies in the United States, with the largest number of students in any interdisciplinary field. During the 1970s Phase I of the evolution of Women’s Studies in the academy focused on the establishment of the field as a separate discipline. The 1980s ushered in Phase II, which could be considered the coming-of-age of the Women’s Studies movement as programs and eventually departments became acknowledged. See Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies, editors Stanlie M. James, Frances Smith Foster and Beverly Guy-Sheftall, 2009.

203. See Beverly Guy-Sheftall, ed., Words of Fire (New York: The New Press, 1995), 451.

204. Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, Barbara Smith, eds., All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave (New York: Feminist Press, 1982).

205. The experience of African and African American lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons (LGBTs) is not linear in its progression from social deviants to somewhat accepted yet marginalized members of both the Black and gay communities. Rather, it is a disturbing and often painful narrative of the attempt to establish an identity and create a visible community within the White and heterosexual power structure. With advancement made through the modern civil rights movement and relatively relaxed views on sexuality in contemporary society, African American LGBTs have made gains in social mobility and recognition. However, homophobia, heterosexism, and racism continue to shape the way in which African and African American LGBTs are perceived and interact with the larger society. See especially Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbians and Gays in Black Churches by Horace L. Griffin, 2006; Respecting the Soul: Daily Reflections for Black Lesbians and Gays by Keith Boykin, 1999; Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual African American Fiction by Devon W. Carbado, Dwight A. McBride, Donald Weise, and Evelyn C. White, 2002; Does Your Mama Know?: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Coming Out Stories by Lisa C. Moore, 1998. See also African American Studies and the Invisible Black Gay Man Dwight A. McBride CHE V51, February 2005. “Straight Black Studies” in Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch, Dwight McBride, 2005 and “Toward a New Black Studies: Or Beyond the Old Race Man,” Journal of Black Studies, 2007: 37.

206. It is estimated that Black Gays and Lesbian are 20% of the African American population. See Victoria Kirby, “The Black Closet: Identity among Gays and Lesbians at Howard University.” Undergraduate senior thesis, Howard University, unpublished 2009.

207. See McBride, “Preface: Straight Black Studies.”

208. See African American Studies and the Invisible Black Gay Man, Dwight A. McBride CHE V51, February 2005 and “Straight Black Studies” in Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch, Dwight McBride, 2005.

209. See Ron Simmons, “Some Thoughts on the Challenges Facing Black Gay Intellectuals,” in Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men, ed. Essex Hemphill (Washington, DC: RedBone Press, 2007).

210. See Note 215.

211. Quoted in The African American Studies Reader-2nd Edition, ed. Nathaniel Norment, Jr., (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2007), xxxix.

212. See Molefi K. Asante’s The Afrocentric Idea (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987) and Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change (Trenton, NJ: African World, 1980).

213. There has been a growing tendency both inside and outside African American Studies to question the theoretical and intellectual foundations of various strains of thought within the field, particularly Afrocentricity. The reader should study Stewart’s discussion of Asante’s theoretical limitations (Stewart 1992, pp. 44–46). See also Stephen Howe, Afrocentricity: Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes (New York: Verso Press, 1998); and Wilson J. Moses, Afrotopia: The Roots of African American Popular History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Clarence Walker, We Can’t Go Home Again: An Argument About Afrocentrism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001); Tunde Adeleke, The Case Against Afrocentrism (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2009); Mary Lefkowitz, “Not Out of Africa,” The New Republic (1992): 29–36; Mary Lefkowitz, Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History (New York: Basic Books, 1996); Lafayette Gaston, “Past Afrocentricity,” The Liberator Magazine 8, no. 1 (2010); Erskine Peters, “Afrocentricity: Problems of Method and Nomenclature.”(1994, from Northwestern University)

214. Afrocentrism has its origins in the work of African and African diaspora intellectuals in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The word “Afrocentric” has been traced by Derrick Alridge to the American historian W. E. B. Du Bois, who employed it in the early 1950s. See Jacob Carruthers, “Reflections on the History of the Afrocentric Worldview,” Black Books Bulletin 7, no. 1 (1980): 4–7, 13, 25.

215. See Patricia Hill-Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (New York: Routledge, 1990). ← 75 | 76 →

216. See Joyce A. Joyce, Black Studies as Human Studies: Critical Essays and Interviews (Albany, NY: State of New York University Press, 2004).

217. Critical Black Studies views the project of African American Studies as a multidisciplinary enterprise. It attempts to apply various theoretical approaches and methodological strategies to examine historical and contemporary formations in Black culture, politics, and society. See The New Black Renaissance: The Souls Anthology of Critical African American Studies, editor Manning Marable (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2005).

218. Ibid.

219. Ibid.

220. See Upton, “Applied Black Studies: Adult Education in the Black Community—A Case Study.”

221. Beginning in 1982, the Ford Foundation commissioned a series of four African American Studies reports: Afro-American Studies: A Report to the Ford Foundation by Nathan I. Huggins (1985); Black Studies: Three Essays by Robert L. Harris, Jr., Darlene Clark Hine, and Nellie Y. McKay (1990); Evaluation of Ford-Funded African American Studies Departments, Centers, and Institutes by Robert O’Meally and Valerie Smith (1994); and A Review of African American Studies Programs for the Ford Foundation by Diane Pinderhughes and Richard Yarborough (2000). See Rooks, White Money/Black Power; See also Griffith, “Epilogue: Continuing Challenges”.

222. The Ford Foundation Letter for July 15, 1971 announced that it had given grants of $1,750,000 each to two Black universities, Atlanta and Howard, “to sustain their efforts to become graduate centers of excellence in the social sciences.”

223. See Huggins, A Report to the Ford Foundation on Afro-American Studies.

224. See Norment, Jr. “Needed Research and Related Projects in African American Studies.”

225. The Institute of the Black World (IBW) was a group of Black intellectuals who believed that Black liberation was both a political and intellectual project. Founded in 1969, the Atlanta, Georgia based organization was initially a component of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center. After a tumultuous separation, IBW became an independent organization. Although dozens of Black intellectuals passed through the institute, the core members of the organization were historian Vincent Harding, historian Robert Hill, and political scientist William Strickland. The intellectuals that supported the institute were world renown, including C. L. R. James, Walter Rodney, St. Clair Drake, Lerone Bennett, Jr., and Joyce Ladner. The dramatic call for Black Power and its subsequent manifestations of Black Studies, and Black Politics influenced this eclectic group. The Institute sought to provide rigorous conceptual, social, political, and economic analysis of the Black Freedom Struggle. The goal of this project is twofold. First, I examine the history of the understudied Institute. Second, using the Institute as a prism, I examine the intellectual trajectory of the Black Freedom Struggle in the 1970s. IBW involved itself in many of the debates that defined the intellectual history of the 1970s, namely developing a “Black University,” a Black agenda, and a conceptual framework beyond Liberalism, Nationalism, and Marxism. See “The Institute of the Black World, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center, Atlanta, Georgia,” Vincent Harding, Jr., The African American Studies Reader-2nd Edition, ed. Nathaniel Norment, Jr. (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2007), 788–91.

226. Ibid.

227. Dr. T. O. Patton, director, African American and Diaspora Studies at Purdue University, has compiled a list of Research Centers. These list include: W. E. B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard James Weldon Johnson Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale University Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library African Studies, WWW (U-Penn), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Founders Library, Howard University, Washington, DC Understanding Race—American Anthropological Association The Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies, University of Virginia, Charlottesville Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans BlackPast.org, an online reference guide to African American history The Archives of African-American Music and Culture, Indiana University Studies in the World History of Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation, Electronic Journal, Michigan State University Library of Congress, Washington, DC Charles Blockson Afro American Center at Temple University. See also The Association for Black Culture Centers (ABCC) 1987, an organization that seeks to celebrate, promote and critically examine the culture of people of African descent, through the institutionalizing of Black and Multiculture Centers to enhance individual, community and global development: founder and Executive Director, Dr. Fred Lee Hord.

228. See Note 238.

229. See Gloria I. Joseph’s “Black Studies Consortia: A Proposal,” Women’s Studies 17, no. 12147–153 (1988) and Robert Cummings, “African and Afro-American Studies Centers: Toward a Cooperative Relationship,” Journal of Black Studies 9, no. 3 (March 1979): 291–310.

230. Important to the continued development of the [discipline] are the many organizations and institutions that support African American Studies. In addition to repositories such as the Schomburg, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the National Council of Black Studies (NCBS), the Association of Black Cultural Centers, and eBlackstudies.org are among organizations dedicated to the gathering and dissemination of knowledge on the Black experience. Through their meetings, journals, and public programs, these organizations (along with myriads of local community organizations and dedicated scholars) continue to address the diverse challenges facing Black Studies and the social sciences in the 21st century. Quoted in “African American Studies,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, ed. William A. Darity, Jr., 2nd ed. Vol. 1 (Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008), 32–34.

231. See the NCBS Mission Statement.

232. See Manning Marable, “Beyond Brown: The Revolution in Black Studies,” The Black Scholar 35 (2005): 11–21. ← 76 | 77 →

233. African American Studies’ faculty and graduate students should be visiting scholars to local school districts to teach courses and offer symposiums and workshops in all content areas of the discipline. We should assist local school districts to develop advanced placement courses and offer distant learning courses for grades K–12. Our graduate and undergraduate students should become teaching assistants to those teachers who do not have a foundation in African American Studies and Culture. See Giles, Black Studies Programs in Public Schools; Asa G. Hilliard, Lucretia Payton-Stewart, and Larry Obadele Williams, eds., Infusion of African and African American Content in the School Curriculum (Morristown, NJ: Aaron Press, 1990). See Note 179.

234. Temple University’s Department of African American Studies began offering online courses (Distance Learning) in 2006. The department’s online course offerings include “Africa in the 21st Century,” “Dimensions of Racism,” “African American History Since 1900,” “Introduction to African American Studies,” “History of the Significance of Race,” and “Black Gay and Lesbian Experiences.”

235. Merritt College was first to offer an AAS certification for teaching AAS. Need for AAS programs to establish articulation agreements with four-year colleges. See African American Studies programs at Atlanta Metropolitan Community College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Broward Community College, Community College of Philadelphia, and Nassau Community College.

236. See The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, June 11, 2009.

237. Abdul Alkalimat has been in the forefront of developing websites and other electronic medium to research and exchange information and data relevant to African American Studies. See H-AFRO-AM@H-NET.MSU.EDU, The African American Experience in Cyberspace: A Resource Guide to the Best Web Sites on Black Culture and History by Abdul Alkalimat and John T. Barber, Black Digital Elite: African American Leaders of the Information Revolution.

238. See Alkalimat, “eblack: A Twenty-first Century Challenge,” in Souls: A critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, vol 2 no 6 pp. 67–76, 2000.

239. Quoted in Rojas, From Black Power to Black Studies. See also Information Technology and Black Studies, A Report to the Ford Foundation, Abdul Alkalimat, November 2006.

240. Source: Black Issues in Higher Education Analysis of U.S. Department of Education Reports of Data Submitted by Institutions. Rankings are based on the Review of 2002–2003 Preliminary Data.

241. See Stephanie Evans, “Bibliographic Study Guide for Comprehensive Graduate Training in Black Studies,” in “Africana Studies at the Graduate Level: A Twenty-First Century Perspective,” Stephanie Evans and Mark Christian, The Western Journal of Black Studies 34 no 2, 231, 305 (2010).

242. Source: Black Issues in Higher Education Analysis of U.S. Department of Education Reports of Data Submitted by Institutions. Rankings are based on the Review of 2002–2003 Preliminary Data.

243. See Norment, Jr., “Needed Research and Related Projects in African American Studies.”

244. It is reported that Dr. Greg Carr, Chair of African American Studies at Howard University, has proposed the creation of a Ph.D. and graduate program in African American Studies, this would be the first at an HBCU.

245. See Nick Aaron Ford, “The Black College as Focus for Black Studies,” in Black Studies: Threat or Challenge, Ford ed. (Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1973).

246. Quoted in Anderson, Black Studies, Theory, Method and Cultural Perspectives.

247. See African-American Athletes History Detectives PBS/ www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives.

248. See Jackson, “Towards a Sociology of Black Studies.”

249. See Martin Ijere, “Whither Economics in a Black Studies Program?” Journal of Black Studies 3, no. 3 (1972): 151.

250. Kilson, “Reflections on the Structure and Content in Black Studies.”

251. Quoted in Daniel, “Black Studies: Discipline or Field of Studies?”

252. See Banks, “Teaching African American Studies for Social Changes.”

253. See James E. Anderson, Public Policymaking: An Introduction (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2005).

254. See C. Tsehloane Keto, Introduction to the Africa-centered Perspective of History (London: Research Associates School Times Publications, 1999).

255. See Murrell, African-Centered Pedagogy; Diane Pollard, African-Centered Schooling in Theory and Practice (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000).

256. See Wade W. Nobles, “African Philosophy: Foundations for Black Psychology,” in Black Psychology, ed. Reginald L. Jones (New York: Harper and Row, 1980), 23–26; K. K. K. Kambon, “The Worldviews Paradigm as the Conceptual Framework for African/Black Psychology,” in Black Psychology, 4th ed., ed. R. L. Jones (Hampton, VA, 2004), pp. 73–92; and Dixon, “World Views and Research Methodology.”

257. Quoted in Joseph A. Baldwin, “The Africentric Paradigm and African-American Psychological Liberation,” in African Psychology in Historical Perspective and Related Commentary, 1997, ed. D. Azibo (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press).

258. Africa as the source of all humanity is generally accepted today. Africa provides a comprehensive time line of human development going back at least 7 million years. Africa developed the world’s oldest human civilizations, such as Kush and Egypt, gave humanity the use of fire nearly two million years ago. It is the home of the first tools, astronomy, jewelry, fishing, mathematics, crops, art, use of pigments, cutting and other pointed instruments, and animal domestication. In short Africa gave the world human civilization. See Delany, Principia of Ethnology; Schomburg, Racial Integrity. Drusilla Dunjee Houston, Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire (Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1985); M.A. Al-Bakhit, L. Bazin, S. M. Cissoko and A. Gieysztor, History of Humanity—Scientific and Cultural Development From Seventh to Sixteenth Century (UNESCO, 2000); Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality; Stewart, “Reaching ← 77 | 78 → for Higher Ground”; John Henrik Clarke, Education for a New Reality in the African World. Trenton, NJ: African World Press, 1992.

259. See Abdul Alkalimat, “The Ideology of Black Social Science,” Black Scholar 1, no. 2 (1969), 28–35; Jackson, “Towards a Sociology of Black Studies”; Ronald W. Walters, “Toward a Black Social Science,” Unpublished Manuscript, 1970.

260. See Selase W. Williams, “The African Intellectual Revolution: The Defining, Developing, and Defending of Black Studies as a Discipline,” Paper presented at National Council For Black Studies Conference, University of California, Berkeley, 1982, Quoted in Little, Crosby, and Leonard, eds., National Council of Black Studies.

261. See LeMelle, “The Status of Black Studies in the Second Decade: The Ideological Imperative.”

262. See The Seven Principles (The Nguzo Saba) Symbols and Translations. www.us-organization.org/nguzosaba/NguzoSaba.html

263. See Alkalimat, “The Ideology of Black Social Science.”

264. See International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences and Wikipedia.com

265. See James Turner, “Black Studies and a Black Philosophy of Education,” Blacklines (Winter 1970), 5–9.

266. African American scholars who do work in the development of the discipline recognize these individuals as founding fathers of contemporary African/Black Studies. The biographical information for each of the persons included in this section was adapted from Blackpast.org; Wikipedia.com; About.com; Africanregistry.com; Infoplease.com; Thehistory makers.com; Reference.com; Answers.com; and from websites of the university or institution the person is currently associated. I would like to express my gratitude to the persons, publishers, and sites for use of information reproduced in this volume. Any rights not acknowledged herein will be acknowledged in subsequent printings if notice is given to the author and publisher. The author and publisher are grateful for permission to reprint any copyrighted material.

267. Since the 1990s African American Studies has produced the first generation of scholars receiving M.A.s and Ph.D.s in the discipline. These young scholars represent the hundreds of individuals who have received Ph.D.s in the discipline of African American Studies since the 1990s. It is estimated that as many as 350 Ph.D. have been granted to a diverse cadre of young scholars.

Selected Bibliography

Resources and related texts for African American Studies are available for those scholars and students who are new to the discipline and for those scholars who wish to complete research relevant to the development of the discipline. Several books are a must for expanding your knowledge of African American Studies. This selected bibliography provides additional readings of authors whose works appear in the discipline and other related areas of African American scholarship.

Adams, Russell L. (1984). “Intellectual Questions and Imperatives in the Development of Afro-American Studies,” Journal of Negro Education, 53, 3: 201–25.

——. “African-American Studies and the State of the Art,” in Mario Azavedo (ed.), Africana Studies: A Survey of Africa and the African Diaspora. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1993, pp. 25–49.

Akbar, Na’im. (1984). “Africentric Social Sciences for Human Liberation,” Journal of Black Studies, 14, 4 (June): 395–414.

Aldridge, Delores and Young, Carlene. eds. (2001). Out of the Revolution. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

—— and E. Lincoln James (eds.) (2007). Africana Studies: Philosophical Perspectives and Theoretical Paradigms. Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press.

——. (1991). Challenges for and one Response to the Development of the Field of Black Studies. National Council of Black Studies Summer Institute, Ohio State University.

——. (1988). New Perspectives on Black Studies, Special Issue, Phylon, 49, 1 (Spring).

——. (1984). “Toward A New Role and Function of Black Studies in White Historically Black Institutions,” Journal of Negro Education, 53: 359–67.

——. (1992). “Womanist Issues in Black Studies: Towards Integrating Africana Women into Africana Studies,” Journal of the National Council for Black Studies, 1, 1 (May): 167–82.

Alkalimat, Abdul. (1986). Introduction to Afro-American Studies: A Peoples College Primer. Chicago, IL: Peoples College Press.

——. (2001). ‘eblack: A Twenty-first Century Challenge,’ Mots Pluriel, vol. 19.

——. (2004). The African American Experience in Cyberspace. London: Pluto Press.

Allen, Robert L. (1974). “Politics of the Attack on Black Studies,” The Black Scholar, 6, 1 (September): 2–7.

Anderson, Talmadge. (1990). Black Studies, Theory, Method and Cultural Perspectives. Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press.

——. (1998). An Introduction to African American Studies. DuBuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt.

——. (1993). Introduction to African American Studies: Cultural Concepts and Theory. Atlanta, GA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Co.

—— and Stewart, James. (2007). Introduction to African American Studies: Transdisciplinary Approaches and Implications. Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press.

Ani, Marimba. (1994). Yurugu: An African Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. ← 78 | 79 →

Aptheker, Herbert. (1971). “Black Studies and United States History,” Negro History Bulletin, 34, 8 (December): 174–75.

Asante, Molefi. (1987). The Afrocentric Idea. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

——. (1992). “The Afrocentric Metatheory and Disciplinary Implications,” The Afrocentric Scholar, 1, 1 (May): 98–117.

——. (1980). Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change. Buffalo, NY: Amulefi Publishing Co.

——. (1990). Kemet, Afrocentricity and Knowledge. Trenton, NJ: African World Press Inc.

—— and Maulana Karenga. (2005). Handbook of Black Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing, Inc.

Azevedo, Mario. ed. (2005). Africana Studies: A Survey of Africa and the African Diaspora. (Third Edition): Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

Azibo, Daudi Ajani Ya. “Articulating the Distinction between Black Studies and the Study of Blacks: The Fundamental Role of Culture and the African Centered Worldview,” Afrocentric Scholar 1.1 (May 1992).

Baker, Houston A., Jr. (1995). Black Studies, Rap, and the Academy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Bailey, Ronald. (1970). “Why Black Studies?” The Education Digest, 35, 9 (May): 46–8.

ben-Jochannan, Yosef. (1989). Cultural Genocide in the Black and African Studies Curriculum. New York: ECA Printing.

Biondi, Martha. (2012). The Black Revolution on Campus. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Blackwell, James and Morris Janowitz, eds. (1974). Black Sociologists. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Blake, Elias and Henry Cobb. The Task Force Group for Survey of Afro-American Studies Programs, Black Studies: Issue in Their Institutional Survival. Washington, DC; U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1976.

Blassingame, John. (1973). New Perspectives on Black Studies. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.

——. (1970). “‘Soul’ or Scholarship: Choices Ahead for Black Studies,” Smithsonian 1 (April): 58–65.

Bobo, Jacqueline, Cynthia Hudley and Claudine Michel. (eds.) (2003). The Black Studies Reader. United Kingdom: Taylor and Francis Inc.

Bonyton, Robert S. (2002). “Out of Africa and Back,” New York Times, March 16, 4A, 36.

Brown, Cecil. (2007). Dude, Where’s My Black Studies Department?: The Disappearance of Black Americans from American Universities. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Bunzell, John H. (1968). “Black Studies at San Francisco State,” Public Interest (Fall): 22–38.

Butler, Johnnella E. (1981). Black Studies: Pedagogy and Revolution: A Study of Afro-American Studies and the Liberal Arts Tradition Through the Discipline of Afro-American Literature. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Carr, Gregory. (2005). “Teaching and Studying the African(a) Experience: Definitions and Categories,” The School District of Philadelphia.

——. (2006). “Towards an Intellectual History of Africana Studies: Genealogy and Normative Theory,” in The African American Studies Reader. Norment. 2nd ed. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2007.

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——, ed. (1986). The State of Afro-American History: Past, Present and Future. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press.

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——, Woodward, C. Vann, Kenneth B. Clark, Thomas Sowell, Roy Wilkins, Andrew F. Brimmer, Norman Hill and Bayard Rustin. (1969). Black Studies Myths and Realities. New York: A Phillip Randolph Educational Fund.

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PART TWO

African American Studies: Its Dimensions ← 85 | 86 →

 

The paradigm of traditional disciplines to the African-centered mind is indicative of the puerile means by which knowledge was categorized. In truth the need to categorize knowledge at all is an example of what Marimba Ani calls the “utamawazo” and “utamaroro” at work, the means by which we control the production of information. Each academic discipline asks questions about the human experience. When undertaking the study of African Americans, we must ask relevant questions about their experiences and address issues inherent in the various disciplines that explain their experiences. According to Greg Carr, among the more important questions to consider in any study of the human experience are: (1) “Who are the people being studied? Where did they come from and how did they come to the experience being studied? (2) How do people view themselves, their origins and their world in any given time and place? (3) How do people organize and govern themselves around common goals? How do they make decisions, resolve disputes, recognize authority, interact with others, establish common tastes and styles, etc? (4) How do people use the materials and tools available to them to shape their physical environment? (5) How do people remember what they have done and how do they pass those memories for future generations? and (6) What have people created to express their thoughts and emotions to themselves and others?”1 He suggests that “understanding these questions as they relate to African people will continue the process of tracing and re-tracing the African experience from its origins in Africa to the present. It also allows us to see African American contributions to the formation of ‘American identity’ without reducing these people to only the sum of those contributions.”2

The boundaries of the traditional disciplines were too narrow to encapsulate the breath, depth, and scope of a discipline committed both to intellectual and communal liberation. Hence, African American Studies was born. However, ideologically it is not simply the reading of texts by Black people; traditional disciplines had been doing that. Rather, African American Studies conceptually was the birth of an intellectual sphere of existence which sought to include all measures of thought as one epistemological area of study (paradigm). This demands critical inquiry of both the discipline and the dimensions of African American intellectual discourse.

The discipline of African American Studies conceived the world in terms broader than traditional disciplines. Hence, there are those whose scholarly activity can neither be contained nor described nor categorized under any one traditional discipline. These are scholars whose work for the liberation of Black people is best understood as a frontline discourse. In other words, their work evolves directly out of the paradigm of the discipline itself. This is not to suggest that their work is somehow more liberating or more “Black” than those whose work evolves from traditional disciplines. Truthfully, the battle for the construction of the Black voice has been achieved from both vantage points. Whether within the discipline or in the trenches of traditional disciplines, both sets of scholars’ names shall be called at the final libation.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the disciplines and the dimensions. From the traditional disciplines African American Studies was born. And yet now, conceptually, African American Studies stretches the boundaries of all traditional disciplines. This symbiosis is indicative of the matrix of the life Black folks have had to live being simultaneously insider and outsider. The forcing of the inclusion of Black subjectivity in academic discourse mirrored the forced inclusion of Black people in American society. Therefore, only by studying both the dimensions and the discipline of African American arts and letters can one fully know and hear the double-tongued testimony of a once silenced people.

Within the general context of academia and education, African American Studies has not only contributed to existing bodies of knowledge, but has also generated new and challenging fields of study, epistemologies, perspectives, and approaches for examining the historical and contemporary experiences of people of African descent. African American Studies: Its Dimensions includes the academic disciplines that provide the knowledge foundations for the study of African American people. ← 86 | 87 → This author proposes sixteen fields of study: Anthropology, Art, Dance, Education, Film, Literature, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, History, Music, Religion, Science and Technology, and Sports. These represent the bodies of knowledge in African American Studies.

The bifurcation of this text is indicative of the way in which Black life was divided. The hyphenation of the title of this book mirrors the hyphenated identity Black people have been forced to bear. Nevertheless, only by understanding those coexisted selves can one fully know the African American experience. The inclusion of the discipline and the dimensions is the author’s attempt not to divide and conquer the historical trajectory of the creation of African American scholarship.

The following chapters of this book are expositions of the bodies of knowledge within African American Studies. While the entirety of the disciplinary knowledge content could be divided into different categories, in this textbook sixteen areas (or fields of study) are defined as the dimensions of the discipline. Overlap may exist between these bodies of knowledge and, where it does, interrelatedness rather than separateness will be stressed. An overview of each academic subject is provided to give students a perspective of the discipline before they encounter courses in detail within African American Studies. These fields of African American Studies are produced by scholars associated within various specializations. Materials written by African American scholars in various academic disciplines have been incorporated into this section in two ways: First, an attempt has been made here to follow a fixed common format in these chapters. They are general surveys or discussions of the particular body of knowledge rather than exhaustive presentations. Second, in each of the chapters, African antecedents, goals, basic content knowledge, major contributors, key concepts, a bibliography, review questions, and summary are presented for students.

These sixteen knowledge contents fit within the intellectual development of the interdisciplinary aspect of African American Studies:

Notes

1. See Greg Carr, “Teaching and Studying the African(a) Experience: Definitions and Categories,” in Lessons in African History (Philadelphia, PA: School District of Philadelphia, 2006), 12–13.

2. Ibid.

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CHAPTER 2

African American History

Illustration

Sankofa
“Learning from the past
”Symbol of importance of learning from past

Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.

—Carter G. Woodson

The African Antecedent

The process by which Africans across time and space have conceptualized and utilized their collective memories has underlying unities that can inform the method by which scholars in Africana Studies view the subfield of history as it relates to the African experience. The emergence of this distinct method of viewing the African experience is grounded in a historicism that understands the past as living.1 The task of practitioners of the discipline is not only to uncover these methods found throughout the instructions the ancestors have left, but to utilize them as we pursue new research. The exploration of these methods of memory is therefore essential.

Many of the more modern archaeological studies point to Africa as the birthplace of recorded memory. In many of the Nile Valley civilizations, namely Kemet, writing emerged as important medium by which to “remember.” While mdw ntr (hieroglyphics) was not the only way in which the past was preserved in ancient Africa, it served as a prolific example of the importance of history for African people.2 History, or more precisely memory, was connected to more than just a periodic rehearsal of dates and times; it provided lessons for explaining life and survival on the Earth and the evocation of a genealogy. This national memory was intimately tied to a genealogical-oriented memory of specific events.3 We see specific examples of the importance of both national and cultural memory in the temple of Seti I at Abydos, where Seti I is pictured showing the genealogy of all the per-uahs (pharaohs) of ancient Kemet to his son and heir, Ramses II. Ramses II would himself demonstrate the importance of memory of events. As he assumed the position of per-uah, he famously related the story of the Battle of Kadesh in the temple at Abu Simbel. A more recent example of this orientation toward memory can be found in the West African (Bambara) traditions of the doma, known in the Western academy as the griot. The ← 89 | 90 → doma is translated as “those who know.”4 They were charged with not only knowing the events of the past, but how these events of the past affected the survival of the group. For instance, many doma were doctors and agriculturalists since they knew from historical memory how to treat diseases and cultivate land. The doma also related to the people the history of their entire group. While there were many classes of doma, the classes known as djeli-faama were charged with the job of relaying to the community stories to inform future actions.5 We also see the operationalization of historical information in the more widely known Akan tradition of sankofa, roughly translated as “return and fetch it.” This can be interpreted as the utilization of what happened in the past to inform how to understand and present issues.

From the following examples we can glean two important aspects of African conceptions of history, as well as an ancillary ideal that underpins them both. The first is a commitment to understanding the entire history of the group or society. Genealogy and not simply chronology of events is a central characteristic of African orientations toward history. The second aspect is the functionality of understanding historical events and genealogy. African societies have demonstrated the need to place importance on specific occurrences to orient their conceptions of dates and times. For instance, a specific society could use a natural disaster as a marker for time. This is important to understand for it provides memory of how the issue was dealt with before in order to inform how it should be handled the next time around. Lastly, the idea of the “boundless ocean” of historical inquiry, or the timelessness of memory, has and continues to inform African views of the world.6 For Africana populations today, the memory of the maafa7 serves an important marker in time; however, once the first aspect is understood, that of the long-view history of our group, we can begin to investigate how we can begin to address its ramifications. The development of what Dr. Jacob Carruthers has termed “Pan-African memory” must be the agenda for historians attempting to solidify a distinct historical agenda within Africana Studies and for the Africana community in general.8

Many African historians trained in the historical traditions of the Western academy have effectively inserted African cultural ways of knowing and understanding in their explorations of history, while others have chosen to employ the methodologies in which they were trained. Africana Studies must at the very least know the processes that Africans have always employed to understand their past and begin to theorize how Africana Studies can repeat and improvise these methods, if in fact the discipline is to be informed by the cultural imprint of African people.

Introduction

[African American] History must restore what slavery took away. …

—Arthur Schomburg

The history of African Americans has been a paradox of incredible triumph in the face of tremendous human tragedy. The last decade of the 19th century represents a turning point in the history of Black people in America.9 With the leadership of Booker T. Washington and the political disfranchisement of the freedmen in the South, there was a subsiding of the fear held by Whites of Negro equality or domination. The previous generation of Afro-Americans had weathered successfully the critical period of adjustment to the new role of freedmen, and though the race was still beset with problems of poverty, poor health, bad housing, inadequate educational facilities, and racism, the economic wealth of the group had increased to surprising proportions.

Along with other forces, the mass migration to cities, southern and northern, during the period of 1880–1920 produced an outburst of cultural activities, and various persons began to write of the “New Negro.” Between 1900 and 1920 both the Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People were born. In the 1920s, pride of race helped produce not only the phenomenon known as “Garveyism,” but the Harlem Literary Renaissance as well. The turn of the century saw ← 90 | 91 → a tremendous upsurge in Negro progress. Alain Locke, the first Black Rhodes Scholar, urged the Black intellectual and artist to be objective about race, to view their efforts not as utilitarian polemics, but in the final analysis as everlasting works of scholarship and art. He called for the highest devotion to truth and beauty. W. E. B. Du Bois had become the first Afro-American holder of a doctorate in the social sciences, and his dissertation on the Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States and his epic sociological study, The Philadelphia Negro, won him praise from the nation’s leading scholars. Booker T. Washington had achieved an international reputation as an educator and race spokesman, while Paul Laurence Dunbar had won acclaim as a top ranking poet. It was in this climate that Black scholars began to uncover for the Negro his incredible past. While it is true that James W. Pennington, William Cooper Nell, William Wells Brown, Joseph T. Wilson, Drusilla Dunjee Houston, George Washington Williams and others of the earlier writers gave preeminent and almost sole consideration to the creditable aspects of Black history, they appear to have been motivated mainly by a desire to refute the prejudiced teachings of the slavocracy, and to justify their claims of equality. By the first decade of the 20th century, Black scholars with graduate degrees in the social sciences were beginning to slowly emerge from American universities.10

Compendium Histories

In his essay, “The Negro Digs Up His Past,” Arthur Alfonso Schomburg would declare that the balance of historical works by African Americans was comprised of vindicating evidences of individual achievement and compendiums of exceptional men and women of African stock. While in his view these works lacked a “true historical sense,” they were in many ways the precursors to much of African American historical work as well as an important foundation for the argument against African inferiority. Two important works of this kind were William Wells Brown’s The Black Man: His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements in 1854 and William J. Simmons’ Men of Mark in 1887. Martin R. Delany also includes aspects of this methodology in his work The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered in 1859. A more contemporary example of this type of work is Rayford Logan and Michael Winston’s comprehensive Dictionary of American Negro Biography published in 1983.

Histories of Historians

Earl E. Thorpe, in his celebrated Black Historians: A Critique (1969) offers one of the earliest comprehensive accounts of the nature and content of African American history. His work is a history itself as it traces the legacy of African American historians from the mid-19th century to the 1960s. Others have extended this genre, including contemporary historians such as William J. Moses, Darlene Clark Hine, Cedric Robinson, August Meier, Vincent Harding, and John Hope Franklin. Ernest Kaiser compiled one of the more comprehensive lists of African American historians in his survey “The History of Negro History,” which appeared in the pages of Negro Digest in the late 1960s. General biographies also comprised a major part of the literature of African American historians and continue to this day.

General Histories

The process of creating comprehensive histories of the African experience in America is useful in extending memory of the past achievements and struggles of our people. Specialized historical treatment of aspects offers the reader an important analysis of that particular topic and general histories seek to bring many of these topics together in a single volume. While general histories explore many of the themes that came to characterize life in America, they also offer in some ways a compendium of the individuals, groups, and institutions that were the vanguard in the struggle for African American freedom. George Washington Williams is usually credited with being the first African in America to author a general history of African Americans. His work, History of the Negro Race in America, 1619–1880, was published ← 91 | 92 → in two volumes in 1887–1888. Williams included a historical sketch of Africa, as well as commentary on Haiti, Sierra Leone and Liberia fused together with the histories of African Americans. Du Bois followed with his The Negro, which also began in Africa as the source of African American historical identity.

Carter G. Woodson also published an important general history in 1936, entitled Handbook for the Study of the Negro, or The African Background Outlined. This work assessed the importance of African identity as central to the history of African Americans. John Hope Franklin would follow in 1947 with his From Slavery to Freedom, which continues to be in use today as a textbook of African American history. The 1960s saw the publication of another major general history, that of Lerone Bennett Jr.’s Before the Mayflower. This work brought together some of the major themes of the previous works focusing on the African past and bringing that history through slavery, emancipation, and Jim Crow to the contemporary era. It, like From Slavery to Freedom, has been continuously updated in recent years including analyses of the 1960s era through the era of Reagan. The 1980s saw the publication of Vincent Harding’s There Is a River, a general history focused upon the struggles and movements for freedom, and Paula Giddings’ When and Where I Enter, which is a general history of African American women. More recent works include the aforementioned Black Movements in America by Cedric Robinson, which assesses the history of mass political movements among African Americans, the edited volume To Make Our World Anew edited by Robin D. G. Kelley and Earl Lewis, and Darlene Clark Hine, William C. Hine and Stanley Harrold’s The African American Odyssey. These are just a representative few of the extensive bibliography of African American historical works that have been produced in the last 100 years.

What Is African American History?

[African American] “History is a Weapon …”

“History is a clock that people use to tell their time of day …

It tells them where they are and what they are.”

—John Henrik Clarke

African American history provides the knowledge foundation and paradigm for African American Studies. African American history is essentially the memory of African American people. It encompasses the micro- and macro-episodic events of the past and the evocation of an Africana genealogy, as well as the analytical point of view that allows African Americans the ability to interpret this cultural history for themselves. Earl Thorpe traces the beginning of a historiographical tradition, which is essentially the writing down of history, as well as offering his definition of the meaning of Black history. He states:

Black history is American history with the accent and emphasis on the point of view, attitude, and spirit of Afro-Americans, as well as on the events in which they have been either the actors or the objects of action.11

He states further:

Black history is that American history which, until the 1960s, was viewed by White America with contempt and disdain or ignored altogether, just as Black people themselves were viewed and treated. Men tend either to deny or force out of consciousness the evil that they do. Much of Black history, then, is the story of the cruelties and inhumanities which a powerful White majority has inflicted on a defenseless Black minority.12

Carter G. Woodson, recognized as the “Father of Black History,” posits that:

If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. ← 92 | 93 →

Noted African American historian John Hope Franklin writes:

Dr. John Henrik Clarke notes that:

African American history is interconnected with all other subfields in U.S. history. Many of African American historians would probably agree with Du Bois’s inclusive definition of African American history as the interaction among African, American, and African American peoples and cultures.

Goals of African American History

Of all of our disciplines, history is best qualified to reward our research.

—Malcolm X

The goals of African American history mirror those of the larger academic project of intellectuals of African descent in America. That is, to create in academic and intellectual circles analyses and critical reflections of historical information and reinterpretation to affect changes in the dominant social structure. In 1969, a group of African historians broke away from the African Studies Association in Montreal, Canada, to form the African Heritage Studies Association; they declared their aims and objectives were “dedication to the preservation, interpretation and academic presentation of the historical and cultural heritage of African peoples both on the ancestral soil of Africa and in diaspora in the Americas and throughout the world.” These goals, in large measure, were much the same as those scholars who preceded that group.13

For George Washington Williams, Black history would serve to elevate the Negro in American society by educating the Whites concerning the true value of the Negro. Similarly, he felt that Black history would stimulate the Negro to greater achievement. W. E. B. Du Bois studied and wrote history because he felt that to do so would help evaluate the position of the Negro through reeducating both Black and White Americans toward a greater respect for the nation’s largest minority group. Moreover, it would, he felt, inspire the latter to greater achievement.

“Dr. Carter G. Woodson, like Williams and Dubois, wrote history because he believed it would elevate the position of the Negro in American society by reeducating both Caucasians and Negroes to a greater achievement. It was, he believed, the job of the historian of the Negro to prove that the race had a creditable past. On this point he wrote throughout his life, continuously reaffirming his convictions that: (1) race prejudice was the result of historical writing and teaching which either ignored the Negro’s achievements or said that they were nonexistent, (2) the Negro must be shown that he does have a credible past or he will lack ‘inspiration,’ and (3) Caucasians must be educated to this conclusion or they will lack respect for the race.”14

Major Fields of African American History15

Black Church History: In the 19th century there were many attempts by African American historians to chronicle the history of African Americans and the church. African religious institutions, such as the AME church, enlisted the help of scholars to recount the narratives of their creation. Examples of this field include Christopher Rush and George Collins’ history of the ← 93 | 94 → AME church written in 1833, William T. Catto’s work on the African Presbyterian Church in 1857, Daniel Payne’s History of the AME Church (1891), Charles Henry Phillips’ History of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America (1898), and finally Carter G. Woodson’s History of the Negro Church (1921). In the latter half of the 20th century, church histories continued to be produced, focusing especially on the role of the church in the Civil Rights Movement and the Black freedom struggle in general. Contemporary works in this vein include C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya’s The Black Church in the African American Experience (1990) and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham’s Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880–1920 (1994).16

Consensus History: Most popular in the 1950s, this school of U.S. history challenged Progressive and Marxist beliefs and instead emphasized that the United States has had in its history very little class tensions, or any other kind of profound division. Although some consensus historians lamented this lack of internal conflict in the U.S. society, most celebrated this trait as a sign of American greatness. On foreign relations, consensus historians stressed that Americans have been united in policies that have promoted freedom and opposed tyranny.

Cultural History or Traditional Cultural History: As a topic, cultural history refers to studies of cultural practices such as music, theater, or film. Traditional cultural history has some roots in the older notion of culture as “the best that has been said and thought.” This narrow and potentially elitist definition of culture contrasts with the contemporary cultural approach. Historians using the cultural approach typically draw on cultural anthropologists’ sense that everything humans do and think, from opera to middle school dances to income tax forms, can be seen as cultural.

Digital History: The study of history that uses technology tools to analyze, interpret, and present the past.

Diplomatic History: This approach deals with the history of international relations between states. Diplomatic history can be different from international relations in that the former concerns itself with the foreign policy of one state while the latter deals with relations between two or more states. Diplomatic history tends to be more concerned with the history of diplomacy whereas international relations deals more with current events and creating a model intended to shed explanatory light on international politics.

Diaspora: This label refers to the resettlement of a cultural group from its original home to a different host culture where, though a minority, it preserves core aspects of the homeland culture. Historically, the term refers to Africans forced into slavery in different countries.

Economic History: Economic historians study the history of the economy. These histories can be highly technical and statistical, as economic historians are often economists. The history of business is also associated with this field, as is the history of technology.

Environmental History: This is a relatively new field that contains two broad schools. One school focuses on the physical aspects of environmental history, how humans and the rest of the environment have actually interacted with each other. These scholars are often conversant in biology and ecology. The other wing of environmental history is more interested with the history of ideas and culture, and how humans have approached and conceived of the environment. ← 94 | 95 →

Feminist History: A set of values held by women historians who see the study of history as a way to combat or at least better understand patriarchy (i.e., the political, social, economic, and/or cultural forces that have granted power to men and limited women’s equality).

Intellectual History: These histories focus on ideas. Traditional intellectual historians commonly write about prominent intellectuals, including philosophers and novelists. But intellectual historians can also focus on the ideas and the culture (patterns of everyday life) of ordinary people. American intellectual history overlaps a great deal with the field of American Studies, which is a separate department at some universities and is associated with the study of American literature.

Legal History: Legal history, or the history of law, is the study of how law has evolved and why it changed. Legal history is closely connected to the development of civilizations and is set in the wider context of social history. Among certain jurists and historians of legal process, it has been seen as the recording of the evolution of laws and the technical explanation of how these laws have evolved with the view of better understanding the origins of various legal concepts, which some consider a branch of intellectual history. Legal historians have tended to analyze case histories from the parameters of social science inquiry, using statistical methods, analyzing class distinctions among litigants, petitioners and other players in various legal processes.17

Military History: This field is often associated with political and particularly diplomatic history, and it can overlap with many other fields. Conventional military history focuses on the history of warfare, including military leadership, strategy and tactics, and the development of military technology. This historical field dominates much of the popular literature and television shows devoted to history. Military history can also entail the study of attitudes about war and the relationship between social and military history.

Music History: Sometimes called historical musicology, it is the highly diverse subfield of the broader discipline of musicology that studies music from a historical viewpoint. In theory, “music history” could refer to the study of the history of any type or genre of music (e.g., the history of Black music or the history of Jazz). In practice, these research topics are often categorized as part of ethnomusicology or cultural studies, whether or not they are ethnographically based.

Political History: Political history refers to studies of government policy, political parties, elections, and other aspects of government activity. Some historians might use a cultural approach or a social approach to study political history. Other historians simply describe and analyze the political process without using any special method. This type can be called “traditional political history.” Political historians study a wide range of themes, from biographies of powerful leaders to highly statistical studies of the relationship between ethnicity and political affiliation in the antebellum North.18

Quantitative History: Scholarship in history that relies extensively or even exclusively on statistics to draw its conclusions. Most often used as part of a social history approach.

Religious History: Religious history examines how global religions have shaped events in the portions of the world where they were prevalent. Religious historians look at all these events from the basis of the events within the church that inspired them. ← 95 | 96 →

Revisionist History: A catch-all term without much real analytical value. Still, the term can convey useful ideas in certain specific circumstances. It has at least three meanings: (1) a neutral term to refer to a scholar who is revising a previous interpretation (in this general and bland usage, every original historian is a revisionist historian); (2) a term used by conservatives to describe, and usually criticize, scholarship on the left that casts the United States in a negative light; and (3) a term that has specific and commonly understood meanings in some historiographic subfields.

Social History: History that attempts to describe the experiences of ordinary people or that attempts to describe relatively objective patterns in social groups. Social history is sometimes difficult to distinguish from cultural history, especially because many cultural historians use elements of social history to set up their cultural arguments. Social history is primarily concerned with the reality of what life was like for ordinary people. The cultural approach, in contrast, is generally less interested in material conditions and more interested in how people in the past represented reality or constructed identity and emotions. This is probably the largest modern field in academic history since its rapid expansion in the 1960s. Social history is concerned with particular social groups.

Periods of African American History19

Each field and/or topic of African American history represents a reinterpretation of the normative discourse surrounding the historical narratives as presented by African American historians. This section shows how African American historians have analyzed historical accounts and reinterpreted, updated, and/or created more inclusive accounts in light of what American history has left out or distorted about Africans in America. The various fields/topics under examination are both chronological and organized by concept.

Colonial Period (1550s–1776)

This period in African American history is marked by the first Africans arriving to the Americas, against the backdrop of the formation of the British, French, Spanish, and Dutch colonies. This era saw many firsts when it comes to the history of Africans in America and in many ways set the foundation for how racial hierocracies played and continue to play an important part in African American life. Some of the key figures include those first Africans who were brought to the Americas, helping to settle the cities of St. Augustine and Jamestown as well as the thirteen colonies and other parts of what is now the United States of America. Many African Americans in this era secured their freedom from slavery and founded institutions that still stand today, including the Black church. Others established businesses and even schools. This era also includes the African American participation in the Revolutionary War, as well as the early movements toward resistance by African American maroons.

African American historians have handled this era in a number of ways, combatting false historical notions about African American contributions during this period. One of these includes radical reinterpretations of key figures in the period. For instance, normative historiography reduces the African American impact to two important figures, Crispus Attucks and Phillis Wheatley. African American historians have done the work of both reinterpreting these figures from a cultural and social standpoint and also expanding the history by including more important figures such as Lucy Terry, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, among many others.

There are at least two prominent issues that African American historians have examined when it comes to this era. The first is the resistance to enslavement. Scholars in history generally portray enslaved Africans as anything but resistant to their various conditions. African American historians have belied this claim pointing to the many instances of slave rebellions, work stoppages, and maroonage. ← 96 | 97 → The earliest rebellions and strikes came about in the 17th century and went on uninterrupted. Maroon societies emerged concomitant with the institution of slavery. Maroon communities were relatively autonomous societies created by escaped enslaved Africans and operated under their aegis. There is evidence that slaves escaping their former masters were a problem for the institution from the outset of slavery in North America. The second issue is African American participation in the Revolutionary War. African American historians contend that their participation during the war was consciously aimed at securing their freedom from slavery.

These are of course just a few of the issues that African American historians have looked at differently from the normal interpretation of early colonial history. When dealing with the institutions of slavery, it is important to view the enslaved as human beings endowed with a culture and worldview, as much of the classic writings on slavery fail to do so. These reinterpretations have had and continue to have implications for the future studies of the period. Important works touching on this period include There Is a River (1981) by Vincent Harding and Black Movements in America (1997) by Cedric Robinson.

Early American History (1777–1829)

By 1777, the United States of America had formally declared independence from Britain and was in the early stages of creating a new nation. The Revolutionary War had engendered a turning point in America history; however, for the African American, the majority of whom were still enslaved, not much had changed. For the newly formed nation, the ideals of liberty and freedom that propelled them toward independence existed alongside the glaring contradiction of African American slavery, a point many Black historians of that era would point out. For them, the period was marked by more resistance to the “peculiar institution.” The emergence of freed Africans in the Northeast also began to take root, as many communities and organizations created by them flourished in these areas.

Freed Africans occupied many sites of influence during this period. Prolific among them were Benjamin Banneker, Prince Hall, James Forten, John Russworm, Samuel Cornish, Maria Stewart, Paul Cuffe, and David Walker. Many of the individuals of this type were preachers, educators and skilled laborers. William Wells Brown called by Thorpe one of the most important African American historians of the 19th century, would chronicle the achievements of individuals in his work The Black Man: His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements (1863). It was also in this period that three of the more infamous rebellions took place. The first was led by Gabriel Prosser in 1801, the second by Denmark Vesey in 1822 and the last by Nat Turner in 1831.

This is an era that has garnered wide attention by scholars examining African American history. The bulk of this attention has gone to analyzing the rebellions that were characteristic of this era and the flourishing of the free African societies, as well as the social status of the African American that changed as a result of the two. This period becomes important for historians wanting to fully understand the African American contribution to the abolition era in American history for it in many ways was the extension of some of the agitation that was characteristic of the colonial period. This era was also important for it included the birth of key social, political, and cultural institutions in the African American community.

Rise of Abolition (1830–1859)

A crucial period in the history of the United States, this era was characterized by important social and economic changes that impacted the future of the institution of slavery. It was an era that saw the emergence of the Underground Railroad, John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry, the growing fame of Frederick Douglass, and the rise of the Black press, as well as the rise of the first group of writers in African American history. Within the sociopolitical landscape large scale changes were on the way. The international slave trade having been abolished, the domestic slave trade gained in prominence, buttressed by the ← 97 | 98 → rise of cotton. This period also saw the important Compromise of 1850, which came with the Fugitive Slave Act and the famous Dred Scott decision of 1857. Many of these events came to be utilized by African American historians to show the contradictions and/or failures of American democracy, as well as to point out attitudes toward African Americans. Organized abolitionist coalitions also began to emerge during this period, headed by such luminaries as William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips and Sojourner Truth. Important work by individuals such as Martin Delany and Henry Highland Garnet began the process of providing an alternative to the more conventional opinions on the African American political situation, including the questions of emigration. The famous contributions of Harriet Tubman and others along the Underground Railroad also characterized this period.

The beginning to the end of slavery was as much the work of enslaved and freed Africans as it was the abolition-democracy contingent in the American political structure. Scholars in the mainstream have traditionally given a primary role to Whites involved in the abolition process, whereas African American histories have emphasized the work of Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth. In African American history, the focus of this period has centered on both the Underground Railroad and the struggle of people like Delany and Garnet. With the rise of the Black press, many scholars began the process of outlining a case for liberation of slavery. African American historians point to these scholars as one of the many factors that would expedite the liberation of slavery. Also important were the historians who actually lived in this period. They included Delany, as well as James Pennington, Hosea Easton, Robert Lewis and many others in the African Methodist Episcopal church. The antebellum era has provided scholars with much information to analyze, and the role of African Americans in this era must not be neglected. African American historians have contended that the African American community had active forces in changing the morals during this period, including the aforementioned Black Church, press and benevolence societies.

Civil War (1861–1865)

In 1862, the U.S. Congress passed two acts allowing the enlistment of African Americans in the Union Army; however, it was not until the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation that official enrollment would take place. During the war, African Americans were employed in a number of areas. Many of them became laborers and solider on behalf of the Union, while others decided to help in other ways. For scholars in history, the Civil War has been approached in various ways. Mainstream scholarship generally depicts the conflict as having to do with Southern and Northern disagreement about the economic future of the United States. This is true in many aspects, but African American historians who take it a step further show that this began initially as a fight over economic differences, but ended in a fight for the preservation of the Southern way of life characterized by the system of slavery. In 1935, W. E. B. Du Bois in his Black Reconstruction in America provided one of the more prolific interpretations of any historian, when he showed how African American participation in the war helped secure a Union victory. African American historians have generally followed in his footsteps showing how, without the Emancipation Proclamation, it would have been difficult for the struggling Union army to defeat the Confederacy. Civil War scholarship is very expansive, and scholars like Du Bois offer critiques of the situation that are at variance with the normative discussion around the role of African Americans in and during the war.

This period was important to African American history for a number of reasons. The first being, obviously, that it was the period that saw the demise of slavery. But more importantly, scholars have shown that it was in this period that we see clearly the centrality of racial issues in the genetic makeup of the country. In other words, the war represented attempts by Southern rebels to maintain racial slavery at all costs, to maintain their way of life both economically and socially. The position of African Americans, as shown by African American historians, in this period and the one immediately preceding came to play an important role in determining the future path for the United States. ← 98 | 99 →

Reconstruction (1865–1876)

After the surrender of the Confederate Army, the Union began the process of reincorporating the Southern states. After the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, his controversial vice president, Andrew Johnson, would succeed him to oversee this process. African Americans, having been freed as a result of the Civil War, were entering a new and different era with regards to their experience in America. For them the period was marked by seeing their kinfolk arise to top political positions, the beginning of formal education and the optimism of one day having promises to them fulfilled by the government. According to historian Lerone Bennett, “[the country took] in these years the longest stride of soul America has ever taken: It decided to try democracyBefore the Mayflower (1962). The various amendments had given Blacks the right to due process and the franchise, and the creation of the Freedmen’s Bureau had in theory given them aid in starting anew. For African Americans, scholars have concluded that their main objectives during this period were to attain land and education. The oft-quoted edict, “40 acres and a mule,” was first offered as compensation by Thaddeus Stevens, although it was never to pass. The White South blocked much attempts at land reclamation for African Americans. African Americans placed their own in political positions. With these important members of state and federal government, African Americans were able to secure public education in many parts of the Reconstructed South. W. E. B. Du Bois, in his aforementioned monumental work, outlines this process with special emphasis on the role of African Americans. He also shows how race became problematic as the nation rose from its embers. Racial terror would rear its ugly head, as African Americans began to assert their citizenship. In cities like New Orleans and states like Texas the worst cases of racial violence would occur as attempts to block African Americans from participating in the all-important political process. However, as Du Bois would assert it was the work of the constitutional congresses, and many African American politicians, that provided the foundations for the most democratic era in the United States. The enacted laws and systems of public education benefited all, not just African Americans. Historians have also largely focused on the role of the Freedmen’s Bureau and its attempts to provide aid and assistance to African Americans after the end of slavery. The legacy of this era has had implications for American society in not only the establishment of Reconstruction governments and their attendant social programs, but also in establishing the norms for democracy in America. The history of Post-Reconstruction America elucidates this fact more prominently.

Post-Reconstruction (1877–1900)

By the end of the Reconstruction era, the majority of African Americans had experienced new forms of racial discrimination in the form of sharecropping, political disenfranchisement and the rise of terror. The African American scholar Rayford Logan has termed this period the “nadir,” explaining that it represented one of the lowest points in the history of Africans in America. His Betrayal of the Negro outlines some of the key events that created the “nadir,” including the Compromise of 1877 and the role of politicians in both the South and North. The withdrawal of the Union troops and the eventual undermining of the advances made by Reconstruction governments in the South created this “low point.” Much of the promises, aid and optimism that characterized the preceding period were quickly diminished. W. E. B. Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction in America explains the nuances of this period in depth, in one of the more important works of African American history. Between this period and the end of the 19th century, African Americans were subjected to the rise of terror and Jim Crow, mainly in the American South. Many African American historians had focused on this era to show the birth of both de jure and de facto White supremacy bracketed by the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan movements and the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in the late 1890s. These important events would give rise to the movements for African American freedom that would take place in the beginning of the 20th century. ← 99 | 100 →

The Rise of Black Organizations (1900–1980)

In the period that saw Jim Crow institutionalized, African American organizations began to take shape across the country. The tradition of organizing began to extend from its earlier foundations in the late 18th to mid-19th century to the 20th. Cedric Robinson has traced the emergence of these organizations in his Black Movements in America. African American farmers formed the Colored Farmer’s Alliance. Intellectuals in the Black community formed the American Negro Academy. The Niagara movement was created to oppose the accommodationist policies of Booker T. Washington, whose National Negro Business League had begun operations in the North. African American clergy also continued to work in organizations such as the National Baptist Conventions and the American Methodist Society as Afro-Christianity found its voice among the other ideological stances of African American freedom.

Women in the African American community were also active participants in the fight against Jim Crow and most prominently, against lynching. Ida B. Wells and others spearheaded the campaign against lynching. This tradition would eventually empty into the formation of the National Association of Colored Women in the late 1890s. By the early 1900s, members of the Niagara movement (and their White benefactors) would form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This organization was created to oppose racial segregation, provide legal assistance to the oppressed masses, and provide propaganda for the benefit of African American people. Its editorial publication, Crisis, was headed by Du Bois and provided commentary on the legal and social challenges faced by African Americans in the midst of Jim Crow.

This period also saw the emergence of the National Urban League, a middle class group of African American activists and business leaders. African American histories have consistently studied these various organizations and their rise and impact on the fortunes of African Americans. Much of the scholarship generated in these areas attempted to analyze the ideological and/or political stances of these organizations, assessing their success in creating new opportunities, exposing racial injustices, and acting as the vanguard of defense on behalf of the African American community. While these organizations are in many ways viewed as the main organizations for African Americans, historians of African descent have begun to focus on organizations that emerged in the first half of the 20th century such as Hubert Harrison’s Liberty League and Cyril Briggs’ African Blood Brotherhood, both of which moved into one of the largest organizations of people of African descent, Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Scholarly attention to the UNIA by historians has been spearheaded by scholars such as Tony Martin, who, along with others, has preserved and analyzed the tremendous impact of Garveyism in the United States.

Other movements and organizations included the “Back to Africa” Campaign. In 1920 in New York City, Marcus Garvey maintained that Black separation from a corrupt White society was necessary. He advocated the idea of Black people returning to Africa. One of his followers was the father of Malcolm X. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was a Civil Rights organization started in 1944 and best known for its “freedom rides,” bus journeys challenging racial segregation in the South in 1961. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was a Civil Rights organization founded in 1957 by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and other Civil Rights leaders. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded in 1960 to coordinate Civil Rights sit-ins and other forms of grassroots protest.

Scholars continue to reorient the community about other impactful organizations such as A. Philip Randolph’s Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the March on Washington Movement, the Congress of Racial Equality led by James Farmer, the Council of African Affairs led by Paul Robeson, and the National Negro Congress headed by Ralph Bunche, among many others. These organizations were the precursors to more well-known organizations that would rise in the 1960s such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Black Panther Party for Self Defense, the Revolutionary Action Movement and others. A number of historians ← 100 | 101 → in African American history have focused on the importance of the 1960s Civil Rights/Black Power Movements as well as the preceding periods. These include: John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom, 9th ed. (2010); Cedric Robinson, Black Movements In America (1997) and Black Marxism (1983); Robin D. G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams (2002); Vincent Harding, There is a River (1981); Mary Frances and John Blassingame, Long Memory (1983); Gerald Horne, Fire This Time (1997) and Black and Red (1986); Charles Payne, I’ve Got The Light of Freedom (2007); Clayborne Carson, SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (1995); and Maxwell Stanford, We Will Return in the Whirlwind (2007). The newer school is led by Peniel Joseph, Waiting Til the Midnight Hour (2007), and other young historians such as William Jelani Cobb. Methodologically, the study of organizations by historians allows for the reader to imagine African American advocacy and radicalism as a systemic, organized effort at attaining freedom. It also contributes to the discussion of the importance of community in African-descended communities and how movements were less individually minded and more attuned to the group. The aims, objectives, and accomplishments of this era include, but are not limited to, voting rights, equal access and the elevation of the African American community.

World War II (1942–1945)

Many African Americans served their country with distinction during World War II. Over 2.5 million African American men registered for the draft and Black women also volunteered in large numbers. In 1941, fewer than 4,000 African Americans were serving in the military and only twelve African Americans had become officers. By 1945, more than 1.2 million African Americans were serving on the Home Front, in Europe, and the Pacific. There were 125,000 African Americans who were overseas in World War II. Famous segregated units, such as the Tuskegee Airmen and 761st Tank Battalion and the lesser-known but equally distinguished 452nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, proved their value in combat, leading to desegregation of all U.S. Armed Forces by order of President Harry S. Truman in July 1948 via Executive Order 9981. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., served as commander of the famed Tuskegee Airmen during the War. He was the first African American general in the U.S. Air Force. His father, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., had been the first African American Brigadier General in the Army (1940). Doris Miller, a Navy mess attendant, was the first African American recipient of the Navy Cross, awarded for his actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1944, Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. became a commissioned officer and the first African American to command a U.S. warship, and the first to be an admiral. During World War II, most African American soldiers still served only as truck drivers and as stevedores (except for some separate tank battalions and Army Air Forces escort fighters). In the midst of the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, General Eisenhower made the decision to allow African American soldiers to pick up a weapon and join the White military units to fight in combat for the first time. More than 2,000 Black soldiers had volunteered to go to the front. This was an important step toward a desegregated U.S. military.

Civil Rights Movement (1952–1968)

The Civil Rights Movement refers to the movements in the United States aimed at outlawing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring suffrage in southern states. During the period 1955 to 1968, acts of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience produced crisis situations between activists and government authorities. Federal, state, and local governments, businesses, and communities often had to respond immediately to crisis situations which highlighted the inequities faced by African Americans. Noted legislative achievements during this phase of the Civil Rights Movement were passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination based on “race, color, religion, or national origin” in employment practices and public accommodations; the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which restored and protected voting rights; the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965, which dramatically opened entry to the United States to immigrants other than traditional ← 101 | 102 → European groups; and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which banned discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. African Americans reentered politics in the South, and across the country young people were inspired to action.

The Vietnam War (1965–early 1970s)

The Vietnam War saw the highest proportion of Blacks ever to serve in an American war. During the height of the U.S. involvement, 1965–1969, Blacks, who formed 11% of the American population, made up 12.6% of the soldiers in Vietnam. The majority of these were in the infantry, and although authorities differ on the figures, the percentage of Black combat fatalities in that period was a staggering 14.9%. A most disturbing statistic in the minds of many African Americans was the number of Black soldiers who were killed or wounded in combat. A high percentage of Blacks and other minorities were assigned to dangerous combat duty in the early years of the Vietnam War. In fact, African Americans made up 20% of U.S. combat units in 1965 and 1966 and Black soldiers accounted for 25% of Americans killed in Vietnam during those years. Blacks’ impatience with the war and the delays in racial progress in America led to race riots on a number of ships and military bases. The participation of Americans of African descent in the U.S. military has a long and distinguished history. But although African Americans have participated in all American wars, they have sometimes faced almost as bitter a hostility from their fellow Americans as from the enemy. Nevertheless, particularly since the 1970s, the U.S. military has made a serious effort at racial integration, and while much remains to be done, the military has achieved a degree of success in this area that surpasses most civilian institutions.20

Post–Civil Rights and the Black Power Era (1980–2010)

Politically and economically, African Americans have made substantial strides during the post–Civil Rights era. In 1989, Douglas Wilder became the first African American elected governor in U.S. history. As of 2014, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts is the only African American governor in office. Clarence Thomas became the second African American Supreme Court Justice. In 1992, Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois became the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. There were 8,936 Black officeholders in the United States in 2000, showing a net increase of 7,467 since 1970. In 2001, there were 484 Black mayors. On November 4, 2008, Democratic Senator Barack Obama defeated Republican Senator John McCain to become the first African American to be elected President. At least 95% of African American voters voted for Obama. President Barack Obama was reelected to a second term in 2012.

Summary and Current Trends

During the past fifty years, the field of African American history has expanded. It has actively engaged in efforts to improve the lives of African people. Black historians have argued that our culture, history and people deserve equal status in these United States. They argued for equal opportunities in the pursuit of social, economic and political justice. Black historians have insisted on the importance of recognizing and including the contributions of African Americans in the school curriculum at all educational levels. There has been an evolution of scholarship in African American history. Black historians have expressed the need for movement beyond the mere integration of Blacks into existing textbooks and courses and the responsibility of the Black scholar to the community. There has been an increased representation of Black women’s history. See Darlene Clark Hine (1989), The State of Afro American History.

Studies in African American history seem to lead a modern movement to express the identities of racial minorities and other disadvantaged groups in new, non-Western styles. The goal has shifted from proving humanity by the standards of White Americans to defining racial identity according to a group’s own terms. In African American Studies, scholars try to escape American standards by using ← 102 | 103 → the African Centered, Black Power and Black Arts movements to appeal to American Blacks’ distant roots in Africa. Modern African American history is often defiant and abrasive because it serves the purpose of revealing systematic, yet subtle economic racism and reeducating those who may have been miseducated by learning African American history from the “White perspective.”21 Yet historians are already wondering if traditional history should be completely rejected and whether multicultural movements are actually detrimental to education. The future of African American history lies in the ways that scholars answer this question.

African American history is vital to Black liberation and Black Power. Black history has always been a revolutionary subject because it celebrates the culture and achievements of African Americans. However, the standards by which scholars judge these achievements have changed drastically over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.

There have been efforts by some African American historians, like Daryl Scott, Pero Dagbovie, Michael Gomez, Debra Gray White, Jonathan Holloway, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Ula Taylor, John Thabiti Willis, Darlene Clark Hine, Matthew Countryman and Edna Medford, to create new subareas in African American history. Dr. Peniel Joseph is the founder of a growing subfield in American history and Africana Studies that he characterized as “Black Power Studies,” which is actively rewriting postwar American and African American history as well as related interdisciplinary fields of Africana Studies, law and society, sociology, political science, Women’s and Ethnic Studies, philosophy, anthropology, literary studies, and American Studies to name a few.

African American History: Concepts and Terms

In any field of study, we must understand certain terms and concepts to make sense of the knowledge content. Accordingly, we present the following key concepts and terminologies for African American history:

African Slave Trade: Until the early 19th century, Africans were legally kidnapped and sold as slaves in the new World. The United States banned this trade in 1808 and declared it an act of piracy punishable by death in 1820.

American Antislavery Society: National abolitionist organization founded in 1833 by New York philanthropists Arthur and Lewis Tappan, propagandist Theodore Dwight Weld and others.

American Colonization Society: Organized in 1816 to encourage colonization of free Blacks to Africa; West African nation of Liberia founded in 1822 to serve as a homeland for them.

Atlanta Compromise: Speech to the Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895 by educator Booker T. Washington, the leading Black spokesman of the day; Black scholar W. E. B. Du Bois gave the speech its derisive name and criticized Washington for encouraging Blacks to accommodate to segregation and disenfranchisement.

Black Codes (1865–1866): Laws passed in southern states to restrict the rights of former slaves; to combat the codes, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Fourteenth Amendment and set up military governments in southern states that refused to ratify the amendment.

Black Power: A rallying cry for militant Blacks advocated by younger leaders like Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown, beginning in the mid-1960s. It called for African Americans to form their own economic, political, and cultural institutions. ← 103 | 104 →

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954): U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended racial segregation in public education and declared “separate but equal” unconstitutional.

Civil Rights Act of 1866: Along with the Fourteenth Amendment, it guaranteed the rights of citizenship to freedmen.

Civil Rights Act of 1957: First federal civil rights law since Reconstruction; established the Civil Rights Commission and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

Civil Rights Act of 1964: Outlawed discrimination in public accommodations and employment.

Compromise of 1850: Complex compromise mediated by Senator Henry Clay that headed off Southern secession over California statehood; to appease the South it included a stronger fugitive slave law and delayed determination of the slave status of the New Mexico and Utah territories.

Dred Scott Decision—Dred Scott v. Sandiford (1857): U.S. Supreme Court decision in which Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that slaves could not sue for freedom and that Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories, on the grounds that such a prohibition would violate the Fifth Amendment rights of slaveholders.

Emancipation Proclamation (1863): President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation on September 22, 1862, freeing the slaves in the Confederate states as of January 1, 1863, the date of the final proclamation.

Enslavement: The act of enslaving or the state of being a slave; bondage. Slavery (also called thralldom) is a social–economic system under which certain persons—known as slaves—are deprived of personal freedom and compelled to work. Slaves were held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase, or birth, and were deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work or to receive compensation (such as wages) in return for their labor. As such, slavery is one form of free labor. In its narrowest sense, slave refers to people who are treated as the property of another person, household, company, corporation, or government.

Fourteenth Amendment (1868): Guaranteed rights of citizenship to former slaves, in words similar to those of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

Fifteenth Amendment (1870): Guaranteed all citizens of the United States the right to vote regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

Free Person of Color: Negro or mulatto person not held in slavery; immediately before the Civil War, there were nearly a half million in the United States, split almost evenly between North and South.

Freedman’s Bureau: Reconstruction agency established in 1865 to protect the legal rights of former slaves and to assist with their education, jobs, health care, and landowning.

Freedom Riders: Civil rights activists who in 1961 demonstrated that despite a federal ban on segregated travel on interstate buses, segregation prevailed in parts of the South. ← 104 | 105 →

Fugitive Slave Act of 1850: Gave federal government authority in cases involving runaway slaves; the law was part of the Compromise of 1850, included to appease the South over the admission of California as a free state.

Great Depression 1900–1939: Worst economic depression in American history; it was spurred by the stock market crash of 1929 and lasted until World War II.

Great Migration: Large-scale migration of southern Blacks during and after World War I to the North, where jobs became available during the labor shortage of the war years.

Great Society: Term coined by President Lyndon B. Johnson in his 1965 State of the Union Address, in which he proposed legislation to address problems of voting rights, poverty, diseases, education, immigration, and the environment.

Harlem Renaissance: African American literary and artistic movement of the 1920s and 1930s centered in New York City’s Harlem; writers Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, and others were active in the movement.

Historical Context: The political, social, cultural and economic environment related to historical moments, events, and trends. Historical artifacts and sources are created within worlds and are tied to the political, social, and economic conditions of those worlds.

Historical Thinking: The reading, analysis and writing necessary to understand the past. It is not only what we know about the past—it is how we know it. Thinking historically helps us get closer to that past—to retrieve and construct a more accurate and complete picture of what happened and what it meant.

Jim Crow Era 1860–1899: The Jim Crow laws were racial segregation state and local laws enacted after the Reconstruction period in Southern United States. They mandated the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains for Whites and Blacks.

Ku Klux Klan: Organized in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1866 to terrorize former slaves who voted and held political offices during Reconstruction, a revived organization in the 1910s and 1920s stressed White, Anglo-Saxon, fundamentalist Protestant supremacy; the Klan revived a third time to fight the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the South and still exists today.

Manumission: The freeing or emancipation of chattel slaves by their owners, which became more common in the upper South in the wake of talk during the American Revolution about human liberty. George Washington was among those planters who provided for the manumission of his slaves.

March on Washington: Civil rights demonstration on August 28, 1963, where the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. An estimated 250,000 people attended.

Maroons: Escaped slaves who formed communities of runaways.

Middle Passage: Term used for the trip bringing captured African slaves by ship to slave markets in the Americas. The kidnapped Africans were crammed onto slave ships and forced to live chained up in unsanitary conditions. ← 105 | 106 →

Missouri Compromise: A legal measure of the U.S. Congress designed to maintain the equal parity of free state and slave state representation in the U.S. Senate. The measure allowed Maine to join the Union as a free state, while Missouri came in as a slave state. This compromise further provided that no slave state would be allowed into the Union north of 36°, 30¢ latitude, nor any free state below that line. The Missouri Compromise was followed by the Compromise of 1850 which allowed California into the Union as a free state.

New South: Atlanta Constitution editor Henry W. Grady’s 1886 term for the prosperous post–Civil War South he envisioned: democratic, industrial, urban and free of nostalgia for the defeated plantation South.

Plantation Legend: A stereotype created by popular pre–Civil War writers, that depicted the South as a region of aristocratic planters, beautiful Southern belles, poor White trash and faithful household slaves.

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896): U.S. Supreme Court decision supporting the legality of Jim Crow laws that permitted or required “separate but equal” facilities for Blacks and Whites.

Reconstruction: Reconstruction (1865–77) refers to Northern efforts to remake political and civil society in the defeated Confederate states in a way to solidify the Northern gains made in the Civil War. President Andrew Johnson initially followed the policies prescribed by President Lincoln by taking few punitive measures against Confederate rebels, leading to restoration of de facto slavery in much of the South and election of Confederate leaders to Congress. Congress, led by Radical Republicans, rejected Johnson’s approach, imposed direct military control over much of the South, and promoted the political rights of the Freedmen by measures including the 14th Amendment. The Compromise of 1877 resulted in final removal of federal troops from the South and widespread restoration of racial discrimination, including Jim Crow Laws.

Scottsboro Case (1931): Nine Black youths falsely accused of raping two White women; the U.S. Supreme Court established precedents cited in Powell v. Alabama (1932), that adequate counsel must be appointed in capital cases, and in Norris v. Alabama (1935), that African Americans cannot be excluded from juries.

Separate but Equal: Principle underlying legal racial segregation, which was upheld in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and reversed in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

Sharecropping: Type of farm tenancy that developed after the Civil War in which landless workers—often former slaves—farmed land in exchange for farm supplies and a share of the crop.

Slave Codes: Legal codes that defined the slaveholders’ power and the slaves’ status as property.

The “New Negro”: A term popularized during the Harlem Renaissance implying a more outspoken advocacy of dignity and a refusal to submit quietly to the practices and laws of Jim Crow racial segregation. The term “New Negro” was made popular by Alain LeRoy Locke. The concept of “New Negro” was first introduced in the 19th century and there are varied interpretations of its long-term significance. There is no doubt that despite the difficult challenges of race and class in the 1920s, a new spirit of hope and pride marked Black activity and expression in all areas. All Harlem Renaissance participants, regardless of their generational or ideological orientation in aesthetics or politics, shared at some level this sense of possibility. ← 106 | 107 →

Thirteenth Amendment: The U.S. Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War.

Underground Railroad: Operating in the decades before the Civil War, the “railroad” was a clandestine system of routes and safe houses through which slaves were led to freedom in the North.

Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL): Black Nationalist movement active in the United States from 1916 to 1923; its leader was Marcus Garvey. The organization put forth a program based on “The Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World.” It sought to uplift of the Black race and encouraged self-reliance and nationhood. It proclaimed the red, black and green flag the official banner of the African race. It was the largest mass movement in the United States; by 1920, it had over 1,900 divisions in more than 40 countries.

Voting Rights Act of 1965: Passed in the wake of Martin Luther King’s Selma to Montgomery March, it authorized federal protection of the right to vote and permitted federal enforcement of minority voting rights in individual counties, mostly in the South.

War on Poverty: Announced by President Lyndon B. Johnson in his 1964 State of the Union Address; under the Economic Opportunity Bill signed later that year, Head Start, VISTA, and the Jobs Corps were created and grants and loans were extended to students, farmers and businesses in efforts to eliminate poverty.

White Supremacy: A doctrine promoted by the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi party and other similar groups which believe that only White people should have political and economic power in the United States. White supremacy advocates have traditionally been opposed to rights and voting privileges for Blacks, women and gun control legislation.

Prominent African American Historians22

This section includes biographies of prominent African American scholars and contributors in African American history. Naturally, it has not been possible to include every person worthy of note within the discipline. Nevertheless, we wanted these to be representative. Our selection process was: First, we included African American historians, choosing from all historical periods. Second, we included as many as possible of the “firsts” in African American history. Likewise, we made sure to profile African Americans who are particularly well-known academicians and lay scholars. Finally, each entry provides a brief description of the person’s most significant accomplishments including his/her academic background, research interest, teaching experiences, selected publications, awards and relevant personal information. Thus, readers can immediately identify the significance of a particular figure and will have a context in which to place that person.23

Robert Benjamin Lewis (1802–1895)

Robert Benjamin Lewis wrote the first book-length work on ethnology by a Black author called Light and Truth: Collected from the Bible and the Ancient and Modern History Containing the Universal History of the Colored and Indian Races; from the Creation of the World to the Present Time (1844). He tried to prove that many civilizations of antiquity were outgrowths of Ethiopian civilization and that many outstanding personalities of antiquity were Negroes including: Plato, Hannibal, Pompey, Epictetus, ← 107 | 108 → Homer and Euclid. This work is important only because it was the initial effort of an Afro-American to tell the story of his race.

James William Charles Pennington (1809–1870)

James Pennington was born a slave. Over the late 1830s and early 1840s, he frequently contributed to the Colored American and he briefly edited his own paper, the Clarksonian. In 1841, he wrote what has been described as the first history of African America: A Text Book of the Origin and History of the Colored People. The Fugitive Blacksmith (1850); it became one of the most important American slave narratives.

Hosea Easton (1798–1837)

Hosea Easton was a prominent figure in the early period of African American history. He became a minister as a young man. For a time he worked within the abolitionist movement. He wrote A Treatise on the Intellectual Character, and Civil and Political Condition of the Colored People of the United States published in 1837, an early attempt to destroy myths of African American inferiority.

James Theodore Holly (1829–1911)

James T. Holly was a religious leader, missionary and Black separatist. He printed articles in Henry Bibb’s Voice of the Fugitive. His first article appeared in 1851. Holly’s main historical contribution was A Vindication of the Capacity of the Negro Race for Self-Government, and Civilized Progress published in 1857, which assessed the historical situation in Haiti.

William Cooper Nell (1816–1874)

William Cooper Nell was an African American lecturer, journalist and historian. He began working for the Liberator newspaper in the 1840s. He helped found the New England Freedom Association and later the Committee of Vigilance to aid escaping slaves after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. His histories, Services of Colored Americans in the Wars of 1776 and 1812 (1851) and Colored Patriots of the American Revolution (1855), were the first extensive studies published of African Americans. He published articles decrying the Dred Scott decision and advocated the commemoration of Crispus Attucks.

William Wells Brown (1816–1884)

William Wells Brown led the crusade against American slavery, in addition to being a prominent novelist, essayist and historian. His book The Black Man: His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements was published in 1862. His book The Rising Son; Or, The Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race, published in 1874, dealt with what Brown considered “the antecedents of the colored race” and with African civilization. Between 1849 and 1854 he gave more than a thousand speeches in Europe and America and wrote several books: Clotel, or, the President’s Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States (1853), The Rising Son, or The Antecedents and Advancements of the Colored Race (1873), and The Negro in the American Rebellion: His Heroism and His Fidelity (1867).

William Still (1821–1902)

William Still was an African American abolitionist, conductor on the Underground Railroad, writer, historian and civil rights activist in Philadelphia. He accepted runaway slaves in his home until they were able to secure safe passage to Canada. He founded the New Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, an agency of the Underground Railroad. He documented details about the daily lives of the fugitives, including their time in slavery and their time in flight. Still published this information in The Underground Rail Road in 1872. ← 108 | 109 →

Joseph T. Wilson (1836–1891)

Joseph Wilson’s The Black Phalanx (1888) is full of anecdotes, eyewitness accounts of African Americans in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The book examines every aspect of Black service in the Civil War: the “revolutionary” decision to arm captured Black soldiers and the efforts to recruit troops; the training of Black Union regiments; and battles they fought. His first work Emancipation: Its Course and Progress, from 1481 BC to AD 1875, published in 1882, attempted to trace African history from antiquity.

George Washington Williams (1849–1891)

George Washington Williams was a renowned Black historian, officer and writer. He is considered the first African American historian of importance. He wrote two definitive books on the Black experience in the Civil War, A History of Negro Troops in The War of Rebellion (1888) and The History of the Negro Race in America 1619–1880 (1883) which explored the African past and focused on the future of Africans across the world namely in the Americas, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

Drusilla Dunjee Houston (1876–1941)

Drusilla Houston is best known for her classic historical text, Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empires Empire Book 1: Nations of the Cushite Empire, Marvelous Facts from Authentic Records (1926). She was the earliest African American woman to write a multivolume study of ancient Africa. Houston was a pioneering advocate of the study of Africa, especially ancient African history, creating a Pan African framework proclaiming the African origin of civilization. In a sense, she anticipated the Negritude movement, early Pan-Africanism, and the Black Studies and African American Studies movements. Houston wrote at least six volumes referred to as the Wonderful Ethiopians Series, including Origin of the Aryans, Astounding Lost African Empires, Cushites in Western Europe, Cushites in the Americas.

John Wesley Cromwell (1846–1927)

John Cromwell was a historian, editor, educator and lawyer who was born into slavery. He received a law degree from Howard University in 1871. He founded the weekly paper The People’s Advocate in 1876. In 1914, he published his most influential work, The Negro in American History: Men and Women Eminent in the Evolution of the American of African Descent, which influenced Carter G. Woodson to found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. He helped form the National Colored Press Association and in 1897, Cromwell was a founding member of the American Negro Academy.

Dr. Willis Nathaniel Huggins (1886–1941)

Dr. Huggins was a historian and social activist. He was the first Black to receive a Ph.D. from Fordham University. He was one of the earliest proponents of teaching African and African American history in American schools. He became involved in the New Negro Movement and in the “Garvey movement” to popularize African American history, along with Arthur Schomburg and John Edward Bruce. In 1934, he cowrote A Guide to the Study of African History with John G. Jackson and An Introduction to African Civilizations with Main Currents in Ethiopian History in 1937.

Dr. Charles H. Wesley (1891–1987)

Dr. Wesley was a historian, educator, and minister who was an early proponent of African American Studies. In 1916, he began a long working relationship with Carter G. Woodson’s Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, serving as president from 1950 to 1965. He wrote Negro Labor in the United States, 1850–1925 (1927), Collapse of the Confederacy (1937) and The History of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs: A Legacy of Service (1984). Dr. Wesley wrote the first edition of The ← 109 | 110 → History of Alpha Phi Alpha: A Development in Negro College Life in 1929. He also is credited with writing the histories of the Prince Hall Masons, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the Elks, and the A. M. E. Church.

Monroe Nathan Work (1866–1945)

In 1904, Monroe Work went to Tuskegee to teach and in 1908, he accepted the position of Director of the Department of Records and Research. He published The Negro Yearbook (eleven editions), which supplied factual materials needed by schools and libraries. Work produced the periodic Lynching Reports. In 1928, he published the Bibliography of the Negro in Africa and America—publications about Negroes in all parts of the world from ancient ties to 1928.

Arturo (Arthur) Alphonso Schomburg (1874–1938)

Arthur Schomburg was a prominent bibliophile, collector of African American print material, artifacts and a historian of Africa and its people. He was born in Puerto Rico where began to collect books and photographs about the Negro past in Puerto Rico. In 1891, he moved to New York City where he became active the Las Dos Antillas Cuban Revolutionary Party trying to free Cuba and Puerto Rico from Spain. He corresponded with John Edward Bruce, James Weldon Johnson, and W. E. B. Du Bois. He amassed a large collection of books, pamphlets, prints, paintings, and photographs. Most of the collection later became the nucleus of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

John Edward Bruce (1856–1924)

John Bruce was a journalist, historian, writer, orator, and Pan African nationalist. Bruce had a strong interest in African history and many of his writings and speeches focused on the achievements of the African past and the importance of history as a remedy to the ravages of White Supremacist indoctrination on the African psyche. In 1911, he found the Negro Society for Historical Research with Arturo Alphonso Schomburg. His historical works include The Blood Red Record (1905), Eminent Negroes (1910), and a history of Prince Hall (1921).

Theophilus Gould Steward (1843–1924)

Theophilus Steward was made Chaplain of the 25th U.S. Colored Infantry, only the third African American to be appointed after the Civil War. He wrote the novel, Charleston Love Story, as well as a historical account of African American soldiers, entitled The Colored Regulars in the United States Army (1904) (later republished as Buffalo Soldiers: The Colored Regulars in the United States Army). In 1900, he published The Haitian Revolution, Fifty Years in the Gospel Ministry: From 1864–1914.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950)

Known as the “Father of Black History,” Carter G. Woodson authored numerous scholarly books on the contributions of Blacks to the development of America. He founded Negro History Week in 1926 (precursor to Black History Month). His message was that Blacks should be proud of their heritage. Dr. Woodson developed an important philosophy of history; he insisted that history was not the mere gathering of facts, but the object of historical study is to arrive at a reasonable interpretation of the facts. In 1915, he established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and The Journal of Negro History in 1916. Dr. Woodson visioned the time would come when all Americans would willingly recognize the contributions of Black Americans as a legitimate and integral part of the history of this country. Dr. Woodson publications include: The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (1915), The History of the Negro Church (1921), The Negro in Our History (1922), Negro Makers of History (1928); The Mis-education of the Negro (1933), The African Background Outlined: Or Handbook for the Study of the Negro (1936), and African Heroes and Heroines (1939). ← 110 | 111 →

Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963)

After graduating from Fisk, Du Bois entered Harvard University. His education focused on philosophy, centered in history. He began to see the connection between race problems in the Americas, Africa and Asia, and the political development of Europe. He united his studies of history, economics and politics into a scientific approach of social research. In 1896, he accepted a fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania to conduct a research project in Philadelphia on Blacks as a social system. This study led into historical investigation, statistical and anthropological measurement and sociological interpretation and was published as The Philadelphia Negro (1899); it was the first time such a scientific approach to studying social phenomena was undertaken and as a consequence Du Bois is acknowledged as the “Father of Social Science.” He wrote and studied Negro morality, urbanization, Negroes in business, college-bred Negroes, the Negro church, and Negro crime. In 1903, he published The Souls of Black Folk. His book Black Reconstruction (1935) dealt with the socioeconomic development of the nation after the Civil War. A second book, Dusk of Dawn (1940), expounded his concepts and views on both the African’s and African American’s quest for freedom. His book The World and Africa (1946) was written as a contradiction to the pseudo-historians who consistently omitted Africa from world history. His other books include The Study of the Negro Problems (1898), The Negro in Business (1899), The Souls of Black Folk (1903), Atlanta University’s Studies of the Negro Problem (1897–1910), The Negro (1915), Africa: Its Place in Modern History (1930), The Encyclopedia of the Negro (1946), The World and Africa, an Inquiry into the Part Which Africa Has Played in World History (1947), and Africa in Battle Against Colonialism, Racialism, Imperialism (1960). He is cast as the “Father of Pan-Africanism.”

William Leo Hansberry (1894–1965)

William Leo Hansberry was a scholar, educator and historian. He was immensely influenced by W. E. B. Du Bois. His desire to develop courses in African civilization landed him a job at Howard University, following his graduation from Harvard in 1921. He built this program into one of the most popular undergraduate majors on the campus. Through the 1930s, Hansberry pursued evidence of early African civilization. Much of his research was posthumously edited by Joseph E. Harris: Pillars in Ethiopian History (1974) and Africa and Africans as Seen by Classical Writers (1977).

Dr. Rayford Whittingham Logan (1897–1982)

Rayford Logan was one of the first historians to study the history of the Republic of Haiti. His most significant scholarship included two works of Caribbean history, The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with Haiti (1941) and Haiti and the Dominican Republic (1968). His most important book, The Negro in American Life and Thought: The Nadir, 1877–1901 (1954), “redirected the historical discourse concerning the Black experience in the post-Reconstruction decades.” His other books include The Attitude of the Southern White Press toward Negro Suffrage, 1932–1940 (1940), The Negro in the United States, Volume 1: A History to 1945: From Slavery to Second-Class Citizenship (1970), and Dictionary of American Negro Biography (1982). In 1932, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Logan to his Black Cabinet; he drafted Roosevelt’s executive order prohibiting the exclusion of Blacks from the military in World War II.

Joel Augustus (J. A.) Rogers (1883–1966)

J. A. Rogers contributed to the history of Africa and the African Diaspora, and the history of African Americans in the United States. He challenged prevailing ideas about race, demonstrated the connections between civilizations and traced African achievements. He was one of the greatest popularizers of African history and the most dynamic Black historian and social commentator of modern times. He sought to identify the historical intermixing of Black and White people and to promote Black identity through particular biographical achievements. He wrote four novels; his other writings include “The ← 111 | 112 → Negro in European History” (1930), World’s Greatest Men and Women of African Descent (1935), Sex and Race: Negro-Caucasian Mixing in All Ages and All Lands, Volume I: The Old World (1941), Sex and Race: A History of White, Negro, and Indian Miscegenation in the Two Americas, Volume II: The New World (1942), Sex and Race, Volume III: Why White and Black Mix in Spite of Opposition (1944), World’s Great Men of Color, Volume I: Asia and Africa, and Historical Figures Before Christ (1946), World’s Great Men of Color, Volume II: Europe, South and Central America, the West Indies, and the United States (1947), and The Five Negro Presidents: According to What White People Said They Were (1965).

Dr. Chancellor J. Williams (1898–1992)

Few scholars have had the impact of Dr. Chancellor Williams. He achieved wide acclaim for the publication, The Destruction of Black Civilization—Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. (1971). There have been few books published focusing on the African presence in antiquity that has so profoundly affected the consciousness of African people in search of their historical identity. In The Destruction of Black Civilization, he “shifted the main focus from the history of Arabs and Europeans in Africa to the Africans themselves a history of the Blacks that is a history of Blacks.” His other books are The Rebirth of African Civilization (1961) and Problems in African History (1965), a collection of essays titled And If I Were White (1946).

Contemporary African American Historians

Dr. Benjamin A. Quarles (1904–1996)

Dr. Quarles was an African American historian, administrator, scholar, educator and writer. He taught at Shaw University and Dillard University (1939–1953) and was a Professor of history and Chair of the department at Morgan State University (1953–1974). His works included The Negro in the American Revolution (1961); Lincoln and the Negro (1962), The Negro in the Making of America (1964), The Negro in the Civil War (1968), Black Abolitionists (1969), and Black Mosaic (1988).

Dr. John Hope Franklin (1915–2009)

Dr. Franklin received the M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. In 1964, he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, serving as Chairman of the Department of History and was a Distinguished Professor from 1969 until 1982. His numerous publications include The Emancipation Proclamation (1963), The Militant South: 1800–1861 (1956), and Reconstruction After the Civil War (1961); Perhaps his best known book is From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans (1947/2010). He is widely considered one of the most important historians of the 20th century. His other publications include Race and History: Selected Essays, 1938–1988 (1990), The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-first Century (1993), and Dissidents on the Plantation: Runaway Slaves (1999).

Lerone Bennett, Jr. (1928–2018)

Lerone Bennett, Jr. was a social historian; he served on the editorial staff of Ebony for over fifty years. He explored U.S. racial history and its struggle for equality. Bennett’s first book, Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, 1619–1962 (1962), is a seminal work. He documented the historical forces shaping the Black experience in the United States. His other books include What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King (2000), Confrontation: Black and White (1965), Black Power U.S.A.: The Human Side of Reconstruction 1867–1877 (1967), The Challenge of Blackness (1972), Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream (2000), and The Shaping of Black America (1975).

Dr. Mary Frances Berry

Dr. Berry is Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a former Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Her books include Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama’s Speeches, from the State House to the White House, with ← 112 | 113 → Josh Gottheimer (2010), My Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations (2005), Black Resistance, White Law: A History of Constitutional Racism in America (1994, 1971), and Long Memory: The Black Experience in America, with John Blassingame (1982)

Dr. V. P. Franklin

Dr. Franklin holds a University of California Presidential Chair and is Distinguished Professor of History and Education at the University of California, Riverside. Since 2002, he has served as the Editor of The Journal of African American History. Dr. Franklin received his B.A. in History from Penn State University, the M. A. in Teaching from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in the History of Education from the University of Chicago. He has taught in the Boston and Philadelphia, PA, public schools; and at the University of Illinois, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Arizona State University, Drexel University, and Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Franklin has served as the Director of African American Studies programs at Yale, Arizona State, and Drexel universities; and was a Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He is the author of five books, including The Education of Black Philadelphia (1979); and Black Self-Determination: A Cultural History of African American Resistance (1984, 1992); and co-editor of five books, including Cultural Capital and Black Education (2004); and Message in the Music: Hip Hop, History, and Pedagogy (2010); and has published over seventy scholarly articles on African American history and education.

Dr. John Bracey

Dr. Bracey is Chair and a founding member of the W. E. B. Dubois Afro-American Studies Department of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. During the 1960s, he was active in the Civil Rights, Black Liberation and other radical movements in Chicago. His publications include Black Nationalism in America (1970), African-American Women and the Vote: 1837–1965 (1997), Strangers and Neighbors: Relations Between Blacks and Jews in the United States (1999), and African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the Slave Trade to the Present (2004). His research projects include the politics of the Black Arts Movement and interactions between Native Americans and African Americans and between Afro-Latinos and African Americans.

Dr. Clayborne Carson

Dr. Carson is a Professor of American History at Stanford University. In 2005, he founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute to expand the work of the Kings Papers Project. Carson’s scholarly publications have focused on African American protest movements and political thought of the period after World War II. His other publications include Malcolm X: The FBI File (1991), African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom (2005), The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1992–2007), A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001), A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), and The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998).

Dr. Keisha N. Blain

Dr. Blain is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh. She completed a B.A. in History and Africana Studies at Binghamton University (SUNY) and a Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. Her specializations are in African American History, the modern African Diaspora, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Her research interests include Black internationalism, radical politics, and global feminisms. She is the author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (2018) and co-editor of New Perspectives on the Black Intellectual Tradition (2018). Blain is the current president of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). Her writings have appeared in the Journal of Social History and Souls; the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Salon, The Feminist Wire, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She is a member of the ← 113 | 114 → editorial board of the Journal of Women’s History, the Journal of Civil and Human Rights, the Journal of African American History, and the Washington Post’s new history blog, “Made by History.”

Dr. Robin D. Kelley

Dr. Kelley is a Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He explores American and African American history from a Marxist perspective, with a particular emphasis on the political dynamics at work within African His books include Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times (2012), Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (2009), Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (2002), Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class (1994), Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (1990), and coedited with Earl Lewis, To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans (2000).

Dr. Colin A. Palmer

Dr. Palmer is a Distinguished Professor at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of numerous books and articles including Slaves of the White God: Blacks in Mexico, 1570–1650 (1976), Human Cargoes, The British Slave Trade to Spanish America, 1700–1739 (1981), The Politics of Power: Cheddi Japan, Great Britain, the United States, and the Struggle for British Guiana (2010), and Passageways: An Interpretive History of Black America (2002) (2 vols.). He is editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History (2006) (6 vols.).

Dr. Walter Rodney (1942–1980)

Dr. Rodney was a prominent Guyanese historian, political activist and preeminent scholar, who was assassinated in Guyana in 1980. He was important in the Black Power movement in the Caribbean and North America. His research questioned the nature of African social institutions on the Upper Guinea coast in the 16th century and of the impact of the Atlantic slave trade. His books include A History of the Upper Guinea Coast 1545–1800 (1970), Marx in the Liberation of Africa (1981), World War II and the Tanzanian Economy (1976), How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1972), and two children’s books, Kofi Baadu Out of Africa and Lakshmi Out of India (2000).

Dr. Earl Lewis

Dr. Lewis is president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He was director of the Center for Afro-American and African Studies and Professor of History and African American and African Studies at the University of Michigan. He is author and coeditor of seven books, among them In Their Own Interests: Race, Class and Power in 20th Century Norfolk (1993), To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans (2000), Love on Trial: An American Scandal in Black and White (2001), and The African American Urban Experience: Perspectives from the Colonial Period to the Present (coedited) (2004). Between 1997 and 2000, he coedited the eleven-volume Young Oxford History of African Americans.

Dr. Nell Irvin Painter

Dr. Painter is an African American historian and past President of the Organization of American Historians. She is the author of Creating Black Americans, (2005), Southern History Across the Color Line (2002); Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (1996), The Narrative of Hosea Hudson: His Life as a Negro Communist in the South (1979), Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877–1919 (1989), Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction (1976), and The History of White People (2010).

Dr. Walter C. Rucker

Dr. Rucker is an Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has authored articles appearing in the Journal of Black Studies, the Journal ← 114 | 115 → of Negro History and The Black Scholar. His books include The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America (2006), a coedited two-volume The Encyclopedia of American Race Riots (2006), and a coedited three-volume work entitled The Encyclopedia of African American History (2010).

Dr. Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (1941–2018)

In 1977, Dr. Terborg-Penn became the Coordinator of the African/Afro-American Studies Program at Morgan State University. From 1978 through 1989, she served as the Morgan State University Oral History Project Director. She wrote African American Women and The Struggle for the Vote, 1850–1920 (1996). She has also written (with Thomas Holt and Cassandra Smith-Parker) A Special Mission: The Story of Freedmen’s Hospital. She is the coeditor of An Encyclopedia of Black Women’s History, The Afro-American Woman: Struggles and Images (1978), and Women in Africa and the African Diaspora (1997). She is a founding member of the Association of Black Women Historians, Inc.

Dr. Darlene Clark Hine

Dr. Hine is a leading historian of the African American experience who helped found the field of Black women’s history. She is a Professor at Northwestern University where she helped establish its Ph.D. program. She argues that studying Black women provided “greater illumination of the power relations that operate along the interlocking grid of race, sex, and class in America.” Her scholarly work includes the sixteen-volume series Black Victory: The State of Afro-American History (1986), Hine Sight: Black Women and the Re-Construction of American History (1994), A Question of Manhood: A Reader in U.S. Black Men’s History and Masculinity (2001), A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America (1998), and Black Women in America, Historical Encyclopedia Volumes I, II, III, coedited with Elsa Barkley Brown (2005). She also edited, in 1990, Three Essays: Black Studies in the United States (The Ford Foundation). Her seminal textbook The African-American Odyssey (1999) is widely used.

Dr. John W. Blassingame (1940–2000)

Dr. Blassingame was an African American scholar, historian, educator, writer, and leading pioneer in the study of American slavery. He was a key participant in some of the earliest debates and dialogues about the establishment of African American Studies. In the 1970s, he joined the faculty of Yale University, serving as chair of African American Studies and Professor of History. He edited the papers of Frederick Douglass and published six volumes of Douglass’s papers and manuscripts. His books include New Perspectives on Black Studies (1971), the coedited Booker T. Washington Papers, Volume I (1972), The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South (1972), Slave Testimony: Letters, Speeches, Interviews, and Autobiographies, 1736–1938 (1977), The Frederick Douglass Papers: Series I (1979–1992), Antislavery Newspapers and Periodicals, Volumes 1–4 (1980–1984), with Mary Frances Berry, Long Memory: The Black Experience in America (1982), and coeditor with Louis Harlan of The Autobiographical Writings of Booker T. Washington (1972).

Dr. Joe W. Trotter, Jr.

Dr. Trotter is Chair of the Department of History and Director of Carnegie Mellon’s Center for African American Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE). He is a specialist in U.S. urban, labor, and African American history. His publications include The African American Experience (2000), Race and Renaissance: African Americans in Pittsburgh Since World War II, coauthored (2010), The African American Urban Experience: From the Colonial Era to the Present, coauthored (2004), Blacks in the Industrial Age: A Documentary History, 1880–1945, with Earl Lewis (1996), African Americans in Depression and War, 1929–1945 (1996), and Black Milwaukee: The Making of an Industrial Proletariat, 1915–45 (2007). ← 115 | 116 →

Dr. Ivan Van Sertima (1935–2009)

Dr. Van Sertima had degrees in African Studies and Anthropology. He served on the UNESCO’s International Commission for Rewriting the Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind. He wrote They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America (1977). Dr. Van Sertima was the editor of the Journal of African Civilizations, which he founded in 1979. His anthologies include Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern (1983), Black Women in Antiquity (1988), Egypt: Child of Africa (1995), Nile Valley Civilizations (1985); African Presence in Early Asia, coedited with Runoko Rashidi; African Presence in Early Europe (1985), African Presence in Early America (1987), Great Black Leaders: Ancient and Modern (1988), Golden Age of the Moor (1992), and Race, Discourse and the Origin of the Americas: A New World View of 1492 (1994).

Dr. Debra Gray White

Dr. White is Professor of History at Rutgers University. She edited Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower (2008), with Darlene Clark Hine and others, Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia (2004), Let My People Go: African-Americans, 1804–1860 (1996), Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894–1994 (1999), United States History: Independence to 1914 (2006), and American Anthem (2007). Dr. White’s most well-known publication is “Ar’n’t I A Woman?”: Female Slaves in the Plantation South (1985).

Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham

Dr. Higginbotham is Professor of History and the Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She is coeditor with Henry Louis Gates Jr. of the African American National Biography (2008) and African American Lives (2004). She was the editor-in-chief of The Harvard Guide to African-American History (2001). She also coedited History and Theory: Feminist Research, Debates and Contestations (1997). She is the author of Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church: 1880–1920 (1993). She revised and rewrote, with the late John Hope Franklin, the classic African American history survey From Slavery to Freedom (2010).

Dr. C. Eric Lincoln (1924–2000)

Dr. Lincoln is known primarily for his scholarly works on Black American experiences in the religious world. He was an educator, sociologist, and minister. He explored how the American public viewed the Black community, and how he and other African Americans could work to bring about change in American society. In 1970, he became the founding president of the Black Academy of Letters. His published works include The Black Muslims in America (1961), My Face is Black (1964), Coming Through the Fire: Surviving Race, Place in America (1996), Race, Religion and the Continuing American Dilemma (1984), and The Black Church in the African-American Experience, with Lawrence H. Mamiya (1990).

Dr. Lawrence Dunbar Reddick (1910–1995)

In 1939, Dr. Reddick was curator of the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature. He was the second curator of the collection, after the death of Arthur A. Schomburg, the founder. In 1956, he became chairman of the history department at Alabama State College. He joined Temple University’s history department in 1967. He had expertise in what would today be called media criticism, especially the effect of radio, movies, and popular culture on public perceptions of Negroes. Dr. Reddick was the author of Our Cause Speeds On (1957), a coauthor of The Southerner as American (1960), and Worth Fighting For: The History of the Negro in the United States During the Civil War and Reconstruction (1965). ← 116 | 117 →

John Glover Jackson (1907–1993)

John Jackson was a Pan-Africanist historian who promoted ideas of Afrocentrism, atheism, and Jesus Christ in comparative mythology. Jackson was associated with a number of Pan-African historians, activists and writers, including Hubert H. Harrison, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, John Henrik Clarke, Willis Nathaniel Huggins, and Joel Augustus Rogers. He authored books on African history, promoting a Pan-African and Afrocentrist view, such as Man, God, and Civilization (1972) and Introduction to African Civilizations (1974). His other books included Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization (1939), The African Origin of Christianity (1981), The African Origin of the Myths and Legends of the Garden of Eden (1984), Was Jesus Christ a Negro? (1984), The Golden Ages of Africa (1987), and Introduction to The Story of the Moors in Spain (1990);

Dr. Paula Jane Giddings

Dr. Giddings made her reputation by recovering the lost voices of silent generations of American Black women. Giddings realized how dramatically small the documentation of the Black female voice in our history. She has put her efforts into restoring and understanding the perspective of women in When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America (1984), In Search of Sisterhood: Delta Sigma Theta and the Challenge of the Black Sorority Movement (1988), and Ida: A Sword among Lions (2008). She is also the editor of Burning All Illusions Writings from The Nation on Race, 1866–2002 (2003).

Dr. Jonathan Holloway

Jonathan Holloway is Professor of History, African American Studies (Department Chair) and American Studies at Yale University. He is a specialist in post-emancipation U.S. history with a focus on cultural and intellectual history. He is the author of Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919–1941 (2002), Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1940 (2013), editor of Ralph Bunche’s A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership (2005), and coeditor of the anthology Black Scholars on the Line: Race, Social Science, and American Thought in the 20th Century (2007).

Dr. Bettye Collier-Thomas

Dr. Collier-Thomas was the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. in history from George Washington University in 1974. She developed for the National Endowment for the Humanities’ first program of technical assistance to Black museums and historical organizations. Her major historical works include Jesus, Jobs, and Justice: African American Women and Religion (2010), Daughters of Thunder: Black Women Preachers and Their Sermons, 1850–1979 (1998), and the award-winning Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement (2001).

Dr. Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua

Dr. Cha-Jua is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Illinois. His research interests include African American community formation, Black social movements, theories of race and racial oppression, African American historiography, historical materialism and culturally relevant pedagogy. Dr. Cha-Jua is the author of America’s First Black Town, Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830–1915 (2000), Sankofa: Racial Formation and Transformation, Toward a Theory of African American History (2000), and Race Struggles (2007). He is cocreator of the journal Black Women, Gender, and Families.

Dr. Peniel Joseph

Dr. Joseph is Professor of History and founding Director for the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University. He is the author of Waiting ’til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History ← 117 | 118 → of Black Power in America (2007), Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama (2010), editor of The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era (2006), and Neighborhood Rebels: Black Power at the Local Level (2010). In addition, he has published “The Black Power Movement: A State of the Field” (2009) and “Dashikis and Democracy: Black Studies, Student Activism, and the Black Power Movement” (2003). Dr. Joseph is the founder of a growing subfield in American History and Africana Studies that he has characterized as “Black Power Studies.”

Dr. Allen B. Ballard

Dr. Ballard, Professor of History and Africana Studies at SUNY-Albany was also one of the first Black Sovietologists. He taught government at City College of New York for twenty-five years, served as Dean of Faculty of the City University of New York and is CCNY Professor Emeritus of Political Science. He has published two nonfiction books, The Education of Black Folk: The Afro-American Struggle for Knowledge in White America (1973) and One More Day’s Journey: The Story of a Family and a People (1984). He has published the novels Where I’m Bound (2000); Carried By Six (2009) and Breaching Jericho’s Walls: A Twentieth-Century African American Life (2011).

Dr. David Levering Lewis

Dr. Lewis is Professor of History at New York University and twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography for two volume biography of W. E. B. Du Bois. He is the author of eight books including King: A Critical Biography (1970), The Race for Fashoda: European Colonialism and African Resistance in The Scramble for Africa (1987), The Harlem Renaissance Reader, editor (1994), When Harlem Was in Vogue (1981), W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868–1919 (1994), God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570–1215 (2008), and with Deborah Willis, A Small Nation of People: W. E. B. Du Bois and African American Portraits of Progress (2003).

Dr. William Jelani Cobb

Dr. Cobb is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Connecticut. He specializes in post–Civil War African American history, 20th-century American politics, and the history of the Cold War. He is the author of To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic (2007), The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress (2010), and The Devil and Dave Chappelle and Other Essays (2007). He is editor of The Essential Harold Cruse: A Reader (2002).

Dr. Michael A. Gomez

Dr. Gomez is Professor of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. He served as chair of the History departments at New York University and Spelman College and as President of UNESCO’s International Scientific Committee for the Slave Route Project from 2009 to 2011. His publications include Diasporic Africa: A Reader (2006); Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (1998), Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora (2005), Black Crescent: African Muslims in the Americas (2005), and “Of Du Bois and Diaspora: The Challenge of African American Studies” (2004).

Dr. Edna Greeene Medford

Dr. Medford is Professor and Chair of the Department of History at Howard University, specializing in 19th-century African American history. She has served as the Director for History of New York’s African Burial Ground Project since 1996 and edited the project’s history report. Her publications include The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views (2006), The Price of Freedom: Slavery and the Civil War—Volume I (2000), and The Price of Freedom: Slavery and the Civil War Volume II (2006). ← 118 | 119 →

Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Dr. Muhammad is the former director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library and a former Professor of African American history at Indiana University. He is the great-grandson of Elijah Muhammad. He specializes in 20th-century U.S. and African American history. He is the author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (2011) and is working on his second book, Disappearing Acts: The End of White Criminality in the Age of Jim Crow.

Dr. Pero Dagbovie

Dr. Dagbovie is a Professor of history and Graduate Director history at Michigan State University. His articles and books include Black History: “Old School” Black Historians and the Hip Hop Generation (2006), The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene (2007), African American History Reconsidered (2010), and “History as a Core Subject of African American Studies: Self-Taught and Self-Proclaimed African American Historians, 1960s–1980s” (2007). His current project is entitled “Willing to Sacrifice”: Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, and the Carter G. Woodson Home.

Dr. Barry E. Lee

Dr. Lee is an assistant professor in Morehouse College’s History department. He received his B. A. in history from Morehouse College in 1990, a M. A. and a Ph. D. in American History from Georgia State University. He has taught African American history in several international venues (Shanghai University, Ahmadu Bello University, Kaduna State University and the University of Abuja). His research interest is in the Black Power era, 20th century Black leadership, student activism, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, James M. Lawson Jr, nonviolence and self-defense as social change strategies, and the South African apartheid era. He has published in the Arkansas Encyclopedia of History and Culture. His current research is on Reverend James M. Lawson and re-examining the significance of the sit-in movement related to Dr. King’s complex and mischaracterized relationship with student activists.

Dr. John Thabiti Willis

Dr. Willis conducted research on the masquerades of the Yoruba people in Nigeria. His research and teaching interests include the precolonial, colonial, and post- independence periods and include such topics as the slave trade, gender and ethnicity, nationalism, expressive culture and performance, and religion in the African Diaspora in the Arab world. His publications include “The History of the Egungun Masquerade,” (2006) and “Talking with Women: A New Window on Masquerades and Witchcraft in a Yoruba Town” (2014).

Dr. Ula Taylor

Dr. Taylor is the chief historian in the Department of African American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Her publications include The Veiled Garvey: The Life and Times of Amy Jacques Garvey (2002), Making a New Woman: Women and the Nation of Islam, 1930–1975; “Origins of African American Studies at UC-Berkeley” (2010), “Women in the Documents: Thoughts on Uncovering the Personal, Political, and Professional” (2008), “Street Scholars: Grounding the Theory of Black Women Intellectuals” (2006), “Read[ing] Men and Nations: Women in the Black Radical Tradition” (1999), and “The Historical Evolution of Black Feminist Theory and Praxis” (1998).

Dr. Ernest Allen, Jr.

Dr. Allen is Professor of African American History at the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies. He is a digital archivist, filmmaker, a leading historian and activist. He has written ← 119 | 120 → about Clarence Thomas, Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam and the message and culture of hip-hop among others. His other publications include “Ever Feeling One’s Twoness: ‘Double Ideals’ and ‘Double Consciousness’ in the Souls of Black Folk” (1992), “Race and Gender Stereotyping in the Thomas Confirmation Hearings” (1991/1992), and “Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Continuing Evolution of the Nation of Islam” (1998).

Dr. Vincent Harding (1931–2014)

Dr. Harding was a social activist, an African American historian and scholar with a focus on American religion and society. He is best known for his work with and writings about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He authored several books including How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1982), The Other American Revolution (1980); There Is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America (1982), Hope and History: Why We Must Share the Story of the Movement (2010), Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero (2008), and We Changed the World: African Americans 1945–1970 (1997) with R. Kelly and E. Lewis. He was the first Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center and of The Institute of the Black World.

Dr. Nathan I. Huggins (1927–1989)

Dr. Huggins was a distinguished African American historian, educator and a leading scholar in the field of African American Studies; he authored the controversial 1985 Ford Foundation Study, Afro-American Studies: A Report to the Ford Foundation, which fostered debate in regard to the structure, content and direction of African American Studies. He was Chair of Harvard University’s W. E. B. Institute of Afro-American Studies. His works include Harlem Renaissance (1971), Black Odyssey: The Afro-American Ordeal in Slavery (1977), Voices from the Harlem Renaissance (1976), Slave and Citizen: The Life of Frederick Douglass (1980), Revelations: American History, American Myths (1995), and Key Issues in the Afro-American Experience, edited with Martin Kilson and Daniel M. Fox (1971).

Dr. Daryl Michael Scott

Dr. Scott is Professor of History at Howard University. He is past the President of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He specializes in America since the Civil War, African Americans, Southerners (Whites in the American South), race relations and intellectual history. His publications include The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson, editor (2005), Contempt and Pity: Social Policy and the Image of the Black Psyche, 1880–1996 (1997), “Postwar Pluralism, Brown v Board of Education and the Origins of Multiculturalism” (2004), and “The Politics of Pathology” (1996). He is the founder, with coeditor Marilyn Thomas-Houston, of the new scholarly journal: Fire! The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies.

Dr. Wilbert Jenkins

Dr. Jenkins is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Temple University. His research interests focus on the Civil War and Reconstruction periods, with special emphasis on the African American experience, the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, African American historiography, and African and African American political thinkers of the 20th century. His books include Climbing Up to Glory: A Short History of African Americans during the Civil War and Reconstruction (2002) and Seizing the New Day: African Americans in Post-Civil War Charleston (2003).

Dr. Yosef Alfredo Antonio Ben-Jochannan (1918–2015)

Dr. Ben was an African American educator, an Egyptologist, writer, and historian. He argued that the original Jews were from Ethiopia and were Black Africans. Dr. Ben was the author of 49 books, primarily on ancient Nile Valley civilizations and their impact on Western cultures. His books include ← 120 | 121 → African Origins of Major Western Religions (1991), We the Black Jews: Witness to the “White Jewish Race” Myth, Volumes I and II (1993), Black Man of the Nile and His Family (1989), Africa: Mother of Western Civilization (1997), The Myth of Exodus and Genesis and the Exclusion of Their African Origins (1997), Cultural Genocide in the Black and African Studies Curriculum (1972), The Need for a Black Bible (1996), From Afrikan Captives to Insane Slaves: The Need for Afrikan History in Solving the “Black” Mental Health Crisis in “America” and the World (1992), and Understanding the African Philosophical Concept Behind the “Diagram of the Law of Opposites” (2005).

John Henrik Clarke (1915–1998)

John Henrik Clarke was a Pan-Africanist writer, historian, professor, and a pioneer in the creation of Africana Studies. He was Professor of African World History and in 1969 founding Chairman of the Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York. In 1968, along with the Black Caucus of the African Studies Association, Clarke founded the African Heritage Studies Association. A self-educated intellectual, he documented the histories and contributions of African peoples in Africa and the diaspora, creating an African centered perspective. He advocated for studies on the African American experience and the place of Africans in world history. He was a founding member of the Black Academy of Arts and Letters and the African American Scholars’ Council. His writing included A New Approach to African History (1967), Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa (1974), Malcolm X: Man and His Times (1991), Africans At The Crossroads: Notes for an African World Revolution (1992), African People in World History (2003), and Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust: Slavery and the Rise of European Capitalism (2011).

Charles LeRoy Blockson

Charles Blockson’s commitment to Black history extends to genealogy. He amassed one of the largest private collections of African American history in the United States, which now stands at over 150,000 items including books, photographs, drawings, sheet music, posters and broadsides. He is considered one of the foremost experts on the Underground Railroad. He helped found the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia in 1976. His writings include Pennsylvania’s Black History (1975), Black Genealogy (1977), The Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania (1981), The Underground Railroad: First Person Narratives of Escapes to Freedom in the North (1987), The Journey of John W. Mosley: An African American Pictorial (1993); Hippocrene Guide to the Underground Railroad (1994), and Damn Rare: The Memoirs of an African American Bibliophile (1998).

Dr. Alton Hornsby, Jr. (1940–2017)

Dr. Alton Hornsby was professor emeritus of history and graduate (1961) at Morehouse College. He earned a M. A. and a Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin where he was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in history. After teaching briefly at Tuskegee University in Alabama, Dr. Hornsby joined the faculty at Morehouse College and served as chair of the history department for thirty years. He was the editor of the Journal of Negro History for twenty-five years. His publications included A Companion to African American History (2005), African Americans in the Post-Emancipation South: The Outsiders’ View (2005), “A Short History of Black Atlanta, 1847–1990,” nd “Southerners Too?: Essays on the Black South, 1773–1990.”

Dr. Sterling Stuckey (1932–2018)

Dr. Stuckey was an American professor of history, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), specializing in American slavery, the arts and history, and Afro-American intellectual and cultural history. Stuckey earned his Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University in 1972. He was appointed Associate Professor at the Northwestern in 1971 and Full Professor in 1977. ← 121 | 122 → He was an Andrew Mellon Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, in 1980–81 and a Senior Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in 1987–88. His publications included: Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America (1987), Going Through the Storm: The Influence of African American Art in History (1994), African Culture and Melville’s Art: The Creative Process in Benito Cereno and Moby-Dick (2011), (with Linda Kerrigan Salvucci) Call to Freedom: Beginnings to 1877 (2003), and Paul Boyer, Sterling Stuckey (2005). American Nation: In the Modern Era. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Questions/Assignments, Activities and Research Projects

Questions/Assignments

1. What is African American history?

2. What are the main goals of African American history?

3. What are the specific characteristics of African American history?

4. What is the purpose of African American history?

5. What makes African American history different from the history of other cultural and ethnic groups?

6. What is the importance of race and culture in African American community?

7. What role do politics play in African American history?

8. What are the main fields of African American history?

9. What are the main historical time periods in African American history?

10. What are the connections between African history and African American history?

11. Has the purpose of African American history changed over the years?

12. How does African American history define/explain the African American community?

13. How does African American history differ from other disciplines in the social sciences?

14. Write a brief essay in which you discuss some of the most significant effects of White Supremacy.

15. What are the main elements of Black Nationalism, Black historiography, disfranchisement, and integration?

Activities

1. Create a timeline for African American history. Enter the most significant dates on the timeline and then provide facts and information of people or events which occurred on the specified date.

2. Create a list of the 25 most significant events that Africans and African Americans have experienced. What criteria did you use in making the selections? Explain why you chose these particular events. ← 122 | 123 →

3. Write a brief essay on the enslavement of Africans in the United States.

4. Research and visit historical landmarks in your community, city, and state.

5. Read any book from the titles listed in the biographies of various historians included in this chapter. Write a book review of four to six pages in length.

Research Projects

1. Who are the main contributors to the various Black Movements (Enslavement, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Arts Movement)?

2. What are some of the primary areas of research within African American history? Give two or three examples of the areas/period of research pursued by African American historians.

3. Select one of the scholars of African American history (John Hope Franklin, Rayford Logan, Lerone Bennett, Darlene Clark Hine, John Blassingame, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Paula Giddings, and Carter G. Woodson) and discuss his/her contribution to African American historiography and determine if and/or how they can affect/benefit African American communities. Link his/her work to a to contemporary issue or events within the African American community.

4. Research and discuss the historical significance of the Black Power movements.

5. Research and discuss the historical significance of Enslavement.

6. Research and discuss the historical significance of Black Reconstruction.

7. Research and discuss the historical significance of the Harlem Renaissance.

8. Research and discuss the historical significance of the Civil Rights Movement.

9. Research and discuss the role African Americans have played in the various wars the United States has been involved in, for example, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean, Viet Nam, the two Iraqi wars, and the war in Afghanistan.

10. Research and discuss the characteristics of the slave communities. See John Blassingame.

11. Research and discuss various slave revolt and other forms of resistances during the period of enslavement.

12. Research and discuss the Abolitionist Movement of 1830–1859.

13. Research and discuss the Civil War.

14. Research and discuss the history of slavery in the United States.

Notes

1. Jacob H. Carruthers, “An African Historiography for the 21st Century,” in The African World History Project: The Preliminary Challenge, eds. Jacob H. Carruthers and Leon C. Harris (Los Angeles, CA: Association for the Study of Classical Afircan Civilizations, 1997), 49.

2. Greg Kimathi Carr, “Inscribing African World History: Intergenerational Repetition and Improvisation of Ancestral Instructions,” in The African World History Project: African Historiography, eds. Greg Kimathi Carr and Mario Beatty (Atlanta, GA: Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations, [2016]), 16. ← 123 | 124 →

3. Joseph Ki-Zerbo, “General Introduction,” in General History of African Volume I: Methodology and African Prehistory (abridged edition), ed. Joseph Ki-Zerbo (Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1981), 7.

4. Amadou Hampâté Bâ, “The Living Tradition,” in General History of African Volume I: Methodology and African Prehistory (abridged edition), ed. Joseph Ki-Zerbo (Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1981), 63.

5. Ibid., 69.

6. H. E. Boubou Hama, “The Place of History in Afric an Society,” in General History of African Volume I: Methodology and African Prehistory (abridged edition), ed. Joseph Ki-Zerbo (Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1981), 16.

7. Maafa is a Swahili term translated as “terrible disaster,” introduced by Marimba Ani to denote the period of African history that saw the forced migration of millions of Africans to the Americas and the subsequent colonization and ongoing imperialism ravaging the African continent.

8. Carruthers, “An African Historiography for the 21st Century,” 66.

9. The writing of African American history began as a quest to understand the status and condition of Black people in the United States. The first works on the subject, James W. C. Pennington’s A Textbook of the Origin and History of the Colored People (1841) and Robert Benjamin Lewis’s Light and Truth: Collected from the Bible and Ancient and Modern History, Containing the Universal History of the Colored Man and Indian Race, from the Creation of the World to the Present Time (1836), sought to explain the enslavement of Africans in the western hemisphere. They recounted Black achievement in ancient Africa, particularly Egypt and Ethiopia, to justify racial equality. These early Black writers, similar to many of the first chroniclers of the United States, searched for the “hidden hand” of God in human affairs. History for them was the revelation of divine providence in the activities of people and nations. Quoted in Robert L. Harris, Jr. “Historians and Historiography, African American,” in Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, ed. Colin A. Palmer. 2nd ed. Vol. 3 (Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2006), 1052–56.

10. See Earl E. Thorpe, Black Historians: A Critique (New York: Morrow, 1969), 65–68.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid., 3–4.

13. See John Henrik Clarke, “Africana Studies: A Decade of Change, Challenge, and Conflict,” in The African American Studies Reader-2nd Edition, ed. Nathaniel Norment, Jr. (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2007), 300.

14. See Thorpe, Black Historians: A Critique.

15. See Glossary of Historical Terms, Wikipedia Glossary of History Terms, and Glossary of Historiographic Terms (California State University) Glossary of American History.

16. See James Anthony Noel, “African American Religions,” in The Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed. (Detroit: Macmillan Reference, 2005).

17. See West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc.

18. See Iain McLean and Alistair, eds., The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

19. For a comprehensive overview of African American History, see the following texts Jonathan Earle and Malcolm Swanston, The Routledge Atlas of African American History (2000), Finkelman, Paul, ed. Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass (3 vols, 2006), Finkelman, Paul, ed. Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century (5 vols, 2009), Franklin, John Hope and Alfred Moss, From Slavery to Freedom. A History of African Americans (2001), Hine, Darlene Clark, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn and Elsa Barkley Brown, eds. Black Women in America—An Historical Encyclopedia (2005), Hine, Darlene Clark, et al. The African-American Odyssey (2 vols, 4th ed. 2007), Holt, Thomas C. ed. Major Problems in African-American History: From Freedom to “Freedom Now,” 1865–1990s (2000), Holt, Thomas C. Children of Fire: A History of African Americans (2010), Kelley, Robin D. G., and Earl Lewis, eds. To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans (2000), Litwack, Leon, and August Meier. Black Leaders of the 19th Century. (1988), Franklin, John Hope, and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century (1982), Lowery, Charles D. and John F. Marszalek, eds. Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Present (1992), Jay R. Mandle, Not Slave, Not Free: The African American Economic Experience since the Civil War (1992), Nell Irvin Painter, Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present (2006), Colin A. Palmer, ed. Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History: The Black Experience in the Americas (6 vols, 2005), Anthony B. Pinn, The African American Religious Experience in America (2007), Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith and Cornel West, eds. Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (5 vols, 1996) and Arwin D. Smallwood, The Atlas of African-American History and Politics: From the Slave Trade to Modern Times (1997).

20. From The Oxford Companion to American Military History (1999) by Oxford UP.

21. See Vincent Harding, “Vincent Harding on the Differences between Negro History and Black History, 1971,” Major Problems in African American History, vol. 2. Ed. Thomas C. Holt and Elsa Barkley Brown (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000).

22. The individuals included in this section are the preeminent African American historians, leaders, scholars, and teachers. They have made significant contributions to African American historiography.

23. The biographical information for each of the persons included in this section was adapted from Blackpast.org; Wikipedia.com; About.com; Africanregistry.com; Infoplease.com; Thehistory makers.com; Answers.com; and from websites of the university or institution the person is currently associated. I would like to express my gratitude to all of the persons, publishers, and sites for use of information reproduced in this volume. Any rights not acknowledged herein will be acknowledged in subsequent printings if notice is given to the author and publisher. The author and publisher are grateful for permission to reprint any copyrighted material. ← 124 | 125 →

Selected References

Many published works of African American scholars have helped in writing this chapter. The bibliography represents the sources of data and information incorporated into the content of this chapter.

Altman, Susan. (1997). The Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage. New York: Facts on File, Inc.

Aptheker, Herbert. (Ed.). A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States (7 vols 1951–1994).

Bond, Horace Mann. (1943). The Education of the Negro in the American Social Order. New York: Prentice-Hall.

Bontemps, Arna W. (1948). Story of the Negro. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Bracey, John H., and Manisha Sinha. (Eds.). African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the Slave Trade to the Twenty-First Century (2 vol 2004, New York: Pearson).

Brawley, Benjamin. (1921). A Social History of the American Negro. 4th rev. ed. New York: Macmillan.

——. (1937). Negro Builders and Heroes. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

——. (1939). A Short History of the American Negro. 4th rev. ed. New York: Macmillan.

Brown, William Wells. (1863). The Black Man: His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements. New York: Thomas Hamilton.

——. (1874). The Rising Son; or the Antecedents and Advancement of the Colored Race. Boston: Brown and Company.

Carr, Greg. (1998). “African Philosophy of History in the Contemporary Era: Its Antecedents and Methodological Implications for the African Contribution to World History.” Ph.D. dissertation: Temple University.

Carpenter, Marie E. (1941). The Treatment of the Negro in American History School Textbooks. Menasha, WI: George Banta Publishing Co.

Carson, Clayborne, Emma Lapsansky-Werner and Gary Nash. (2011). The Struggle for Freedom: A History of African Americans. New York: Pearson Education, Inc.

Cromwell, John W. (1914). The Negro in American History. Washington, DC: The American Negro Academy.

Dagbovie, Pero Gaglo. (2007). The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

——. (2010). African American History Reconsidered. Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Davie, Maurice R. (1950). Negroes in American Society. New York: Whittlesey House.

Delaney, Martin R. (1926). The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the U.S. Politically Considered. Published by the Author.

Dowd, Jerome. (1926). The Negro in American Life. New York: Century Co.

Earle, Jonathan, and Malcolm Swanston. (2000). The Routledge Atlas of African American History. New York: Routledge.

Eppse, Merl R., and A. P. Foster. (1943). An Elementary History of America, Including the Contributions of the Negro Race. Nashville, TN: National Educational Publishing Co.

Finkelman, Paul (Ed.). Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass (3 vol,). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006.

——. (Ed.). Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century (5 vol, 2). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Finkenbine, Roy E. (2003). Sources of the African-American Past: Primary Sources in American History (2nd ed). New York: Pearson.

Franklin, John Hope and August Meier (Eds.). (1982). Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

—— and Alfred Moss. (2001). From Slavery to Freedom. A History of African Americans, New York: Knopf.

Harley, Sharon. (Ed.). (1985). The Timetables of African-American History. New York: Simon and Schuster Press.

Herskovits, M. J. (1941). The Myth of the Negro Past. New York: Harper and Brothers.

Hine, Darlene Clark. (Ed.). (1986). The State of Afro-American History: Past, Present, and Future. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press.

——. Rosalyn Terborg-Penn and Elsa Barkley Brown (Eds.). (2005). Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

——, et al. The African-American Odyssey (2 vol, 4th ed). New York: Pearson, 2007.

Holly, James Theodore. (1865). A Vindication of the Capacity of the Negro Race for Self-Government and Civilized Progress. New Haven, CT: Afric-American Printing Co.

Holt, Thomas C. (Ed.). (2000). Major Problems in African-American History: From Freedom to “Freedom Now,” 1865–1990s. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

——. (2010). Children of Fire: A History of African Americans. New York: Hill and Wang.

Hornsby Jr., Alton, et al. (Eds.). (2005). A Companion to African American History. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Johnson, Edward A. (1911). School History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1890. Rev. Ed., New York: Isaac Goldman Co.

Kelley, Robin D. G. and Earl Lewis. (Eds.). (2000). To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Keto, C. Tsehloane. (1989). The Africa Centered Perspective of History. Blackwood, NJ: K. A. Publications.

Kusmer, Kenneth L. and Joe W. Trotter (Eds.). (2000). African-American Urban History since World War II. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. ← 125 | 126 →

Lawson, Elizabeth. (1939). Study Outline History of the American Negro People, 1619–1918. New York: Workers Book Shop.

Litwack, Leon and August Meier. (1988). Black Leaders of the 19th Century. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Locke, Alain. (Ed.). (1925). The New Negro. New York: Albert and Charles Boni.

Meier, August and Elliott M. Rudwick. (1986). Black History and the Historical Profession, 1915–1980. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Ottley, Roi. (1948). Black Odyssey: The Story of the Negro in America. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons.

Painter, Nell Irvin. (2006). Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Palmer, Colin A. (Ed.). Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History: The Black Experience in the Americas (6 vol. 2005).

Pennington, James W. C. (1841). A Textbook of the Origin and History of the Colored People. New York: The Colored American.

Quarles, Benjamin. (1988). Black Mosaic: Essays in Afro-American History and Historiography. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.

Redding, J. S. (1950). They Came in Chains. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.

Reid, Ira De A. (1939). The Negro Immigrant. New York: Columbia University.

Salzman, Jack, David Lionel Smith, and Cornel West. (Eds.). Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (5 vol. 1996).

Smallwood, Arwin D. (1997). The Atlas of African-American History and Politics: From the Slave Trade to Modern Times. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Stuckey, Sterling. (1987). Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America. New York: Oxford University Press.

Thorpe, Earl E. (1969). Black Historians: A Critique. New York: Morrow.

Van Deusen, John G. (1944). The Black Man in White America. Washington, DC: Associated Publishers.

Williams, George W. (1883). A History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880. New York: Putnam and Sons.

——. (Ed.). (1940). The Negro in the Americas. Washington, DC: Howard University.

Woodson, Carter G. (1915). Education of the Negro Prior to 1861. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

——. (1922). The Negro in Our History. Washington, DC: The Association For the Study of Negro Life and History.

——. (1935). The Story of the Negro Retold. Washington, DC: Associated Publishers.

——. (1936). The African Background Outlined. Washington, DC: Association For the Study of Negro Life and History.

——. (1939). African Heroes and Heroines. Washington, DC: Associated Publishers.

Wright, Kai. (Ed.). (2001). The African-American Archive: The History of the Black Experience Through Documents. New York: Black Dog and Leventhal.

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CHAPTER 3

African American Literature

Illustration

Ananse Ntontan
“Spider’s web”
Symbol of wisdom, creativity, and the complexes of life

The final measure of the greatness of all peoples is the amount and standard of the literature and art they have produced.

—James Weldon Johnson

The African Antecedents

The genealogy of African writers is vast. To categorize the intellectual contributions of African people prior to their wholesale enslavement and colonization from both the East and the West would be a weighty task, requiring the study of many languages, cultures, and deep thought traditions. African American Studies must, however, prepare for the task, as it is the only discipline designed to connect ancestral memory to the contemporary life-worlds of people of African descent. Scholars must question, identify, and/or explain the elements inherent in the broad expanses of writings arising out of the African context and their essential meanings to the particular society from which they arose. African American Studies must uniquely approach these various writings with an understanding of how Africans traditionally made meaning of their experiences, which requires that scholars have an understanding of Africana cultures.

The question of whether or not Africana peoples have a literary tradition prior to Arab/European intervention has been raised in the last half century with the rise of disciplines such as Anthropology and African Studies. The existence of a tradition of literature has been thoroughly affirmed. The remaining task, then, is to extend the study of these traditions, incorporating them into the discipline’s agenda. Literature is derived from the Latin term littera, and has been translated as “acquaintance with letters.” Scholars of literature in the Western academy are designed to analyze texts based on various theoretical frameworks. These writings, both nonfiction and fiction, come from different cultural and geographical origins, creating subfields under the larger umbrella of literature. For instance, the academy has generally made a distinction between American literature and African American literature, with the latter usually not being considered within the former. Despite this, however, many theorists in ← 127 | 128 → African American literature follow the same conceptual models of those in the mainstream of the discipline. While many of the literary aspects of African American literature are characteristic of American traditions, there are also aspects that emerge from a longer-view genealogy that sometimes feature more prominently. African American literature has a unique intellectual heritage dating back to the earliest evidences of the written word.

The tradition in Ancient Kemet of writing dates back to at least the unification of the Nile Valley at or near the contested date of 3200 B.C. The purpose of the script was to convey essential meanings about life and the past to those in the present and future. It was the job of the sesh, or the scribe, to preserve and inscribe this wisdom. From a young age, the scribes were trained rigorously to perform these duties. In other parts of Africa, there emerged other traditions. Greg Carr has commented that in the context of African written traditions, scholars must go “beyond the contemporary meaning of writing, [and] we must especially reframe the process of inscribing through symbol systems to include all categories of the human experience.”1 This means that literature in the African context must be concerned with not only what is “written,” visibly, but also what is “spoken, sung, sculpted and danced.”2 The oral and kinetic traditions of West Africa form a large corpus of literature that emerged from Africa with the forced migration of Africans to the Western hemisphere. Michael Gomez, along with others, has traced the evolution of these traditions, many of which have been termed “folklore” in the contemporary era.

In the process of analyzing African literature, scholars should familiarize themselves with both the language and the grammar/vocabulary of the culture under examination. This allows them to place importance on the cultural meaning of whatever “writing” they observe. The African literary tradition includes a holistic edification of a culture or society’s worldview. The “folk tales” are connected to the spiritual tradition, which is connected in turn to their historical tradition. In order to analyze literature, then, an interdisciplinary approach to scholarship must be employed to arrive at conclusions about the meaning and purpose of the text being analyzed. In African societies, literature is not simply an exercise in storytelling; it is the recounting of an experience. Carr explains,

This is one of the most powerful lessons of medew netcher, a symbol system that sought to resolve visual, aural, olfactory, and kinetic experience into a textual form that allows human beings to (re)construct some dimension of all those senses as well as the spiritual sense beyond.3

That statement succinctly describes African traditions of meaning-making that should be the crux of the intellectual objectives of any subfield attempting to look at African literature. The task of these scholars, once conceptualized in this holistic manner, becomes immense. For it is an expansive field that covers not only Mdw Ntr, but oral traditions in Senegambia, the song traditions of Southern Africa, the trickster tales of the Yoruba and the many other forms of African cultural production that conflate “letters” with life experience. However, the recovery of cultural and ancestral memory of who Africans were will indeed aid the literary critic in his or her analysis of writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, Jamaica Kincaid, Charles Johnson, Margaret Walker, Daniel Black and others who have “written” experiences in the form of fiction on this side of the Atlantic. Understanding these connections allows thinkers to further advance their understanding of intellectual traditions in the Africana world and their personal connection to them. African American literature is one of the areas where this can be accomplished.

Introduction4

The true test of the progress of a people is to be found in their literature.

—Daniel Alexander Payne Murray

The various genres of African American literature represent the cultural, social, historical, political, and psychological experiences of African Americans in the United States during colonial times, enslavement, ← 128 | 129 → the Civil War, the Depression, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts/Aesthetics movement, and the present. By 1860, the most distinctive writings of the period were the narratives of those who had escaped from enslavement. Growing nationwide resistance to enslavement went hand in hand with an outpouring of African American writing. In these works, the authors described their hardships which they had endured in enslavement and the adventures that had befallen them as they made their way to freedom. Among the most widely read works in this genre were the narratives of Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, Harriet A. Jacobs, Henry Bibb, J. D. Green, Charles Ball, Moses Roper and Lunsford Lane. In many cases the fugitives related their stories to White abolitionists, who wrote the narratives in their own words, according to the literary conventions of the day.5 In the late 1900s, many Black novelists produced works of myth, ritual and magical realism to reflect on the legacies of enslavement and racial prejudice.

Black writers played an active role in the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s. Gwendolyn Brooks, for example, composed “The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till” for a Black youth murdered in Mississippi in 1955; she included more explicit social criticism in her volume The Bean Eaters (1960). Poetry was also a central form of expression for the Black Arts movement, the artistic branch of the Black Power movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. Important female poets in this movement, which emphasized the solidarity of the African American community, included Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Carolyn M. Rodgers, and Nikki Giovanni. The autobiography of the murdered Black activist Malcolm X, written with Alex Haley and published in 1965, influenced similar memoirs by Black female activists like Anne Moody and Angela Davis, who published her own autobiography in 1974.6

In the 1960s, during the Civil Rights Movement, many African Americans rejected earlier hopes for an integrated society and began to call for a separate Black culture. The Black Arts Movement rejected the literary forms and values of White culture, and instead founded magazines and institutions supporting writing that reflected the Black experience. As LeRoi Jones became more politically active, he changed his name to Imamu Ameer Baraka, and then eventually to Amiri Baraka, to reflect his African heritage. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s brought forth a number of popular autobiographies, including the Autobiography of Malcolm X (in 1965, edited by Alex Haley), Claude Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land (1965), Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice (1968), and Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson (1970). Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976) traced his family’s history back through American enslavement to his African ancestors.7

In the 1970s, during the culmination of the Black Power movement, Robert Beck took the pen name Iceberg Slim and wrote Pimp, a dark, gritty tale of life in the inner-city underworld. While the book contained elements of the Black Power agenda, it was most notable for its unsparing depiction of street life. This genre of African American literature was called urban fiction. Major writers of contemporary urban fiction include Donald Gaines, Ashley and JaQuavis Coleman, K’wan Foye, Treasure E. Blue, Wahida Clark, Anthony Whyte, Erick Gray, Shannon Holmes, Deborah Cardona, E. Lynn Harris, Vickie Stringer, Miasha, T. N. Baker, Deja King, Eric Jerome Dickey, Solomon Jones, Nikki Turner, Zane, Jeff Rivera, Omar Tyree, Terri Woods, Brittani Williams, and the writing duo Meesha Mink and De’Nesha Diamond. Other notable urban-fiction writers include Kole Black, author of The Chance Series. In 2009, the first known urban Islamic fiction novel, The Size of a Mustard Seed, by Maryam “Umm Juwayriyah” Sullivan was published. Sullivan created her novel as a natural evolution of urban fiction, portraying the lives of multigenerational, inner-city American Muslims of various and blended backgrounds. Tamika Newhouse appeared in 2009 with the classic book The Ultimate No. During the 1980s and early 1990s, urban fiction in print experienced a decline.8

The growth of the women’s movement, and its impact on the consciousness of African American women in particular, helped fuel the “Black women’s literary renaissance” of the 1970s, beginning in earnest with the publication of The Bluest Eye (1970) by Toni Morrison. Morrison later published Sula (1973) and Song of Solomon (1977); her fifth novel, the slave narrative Beloved (1987), became arguably ← 129 | 130 → the most influential work of African American literature of the late 20th century (rivaled only by Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man). The success of writers like J. California Cooper, Morrison, Maya Angelou (poet and author of the 1970 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings), and Alice Walker (winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for The Color Purple) helped inspire a generation of younger Black female novelists, including Toni Cade Bambara and Gloria Naylor. Later African American writers include the novelists Paule Marshall, Octavia E. Butler, Bebe Moore Campbell, Gayl Jones, Terry McMillan, Jamaica Kincaid and Edwidge Danticat; the poets Audre Lord and Rita Dove (who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1987); and the playwrights Ntozake Shange and Suzan-Lori Parks.9

There is also an unexpected literary groundswell of Hip-hop fiction and “street literature,” which was sparked by Sister Souljah’s The Coldest Winter Ever (1999). Authors with books in this genre include Sofia Quintero of the Black Artemis Novels; E-Fierce, also known as Elisha Miranda; Heru Ptah; Ferentz Lafargue; Saul Williams; Abiola Abrams; Felicia Pride; Marcella Runell Hall; and Martha Diaz. Their works are hip-hop literature or street literature books that take a more literary approach, using metaphor, signifying and other literary devices. These books may also be used in socially redeeming or classroom capacities, while maintaining love and positivity for the music and the hip-hop culture. Modern hip-hop literature in print form is also a thriving and popular genre. Many nonfiction publications from figures in the hip-hop realm such as Russell Simmons, Kevin Liles, LL Cool J and FUBU founder Daymond John feature prominently in this genre. Well-known female personas such as Carmen Bryant, Karrine Steffans, and Wendy Williams have written books for this audience. Both Steffans and emcee 50 Cent have had such success with their books that they were given their own imprints, such as 50 Cent’s G-Unit Books, to usher in similar authors.10

What Is African American Literature?

African American literature is the writings by and about people of African descent living in the United States of America. African American literature has generally focused on themes of particular interest to Blacks in the United States, such as the role of African Americans within the larger American society and what it means to be African in America. African American literature explores issues of freedom and equality which have long been denied to Blacks in the United States, along with further themes such as African American culture, identity, family, violence, racism, religion, slavery, a sense of home, and more. African American literature constitutes a vital branch of the literature of the African diaspora, with African American literature both being influenced by the great African diasporic heritage and in turn influencing African diasporic writings. In addition, African American literature exists within the larger realm of postcolonial literature, even though scholars draw a distinctive line between the two by stating that “African American literature differs from most post-colonial literature in that it is written by members of a minority community who reside within a nation of vast wealth and economic power.”11 African American oral culture is rich in poetry, spirituals, African American gospel music, blues, and rap. This oral poetry also appears in the African American tradition of Christian sermons, which makes use of deliberate repetition, cadence, and alliteration. African American literature—especially written poetry, but also prose—has a strong tradition of incorporating all of these forms of oral poetry. However, while these characteristics and themes exist on many levels of African American literature, they are not the exclusive definition of the genre and do not exist within all works within the genre.12 African American folk traditions form the foundation of African American Literature.

Goals of African American Literature

1. Reconstruct African American literary tradition and ensure its place within the traditional canon;

2. Account for the “African element” in African American literature; ← 130 | 131 →

3. Understand African American literature in relationship to relevant historical antecedents; Further the knowledge of the lives of literary artists such as Zora Neale Hurston, Audre Lorde, Nella Larsen, Ann Petry, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Frank Yerby, Chester Himes, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and James Baldwin, as well as the characteristics of each author and his/her themes and genres as developed within an historical context;

4. Understand and be able to identify the style of various authors and movements;

5. Understand and be able to analyze how authors negotiate the tension between the aesthetic and political functions of literature;

6. Consider these authors in relationship to Modernism, Realism, Naturalism, and other major literary movements;

7. Recognize forms of protest literature—such as pamphlets and manifestoes—and understand how protest is accomplished in various genres, including fiction, nonfiction, sermons, drama, and slave narratives;

8. Develop an appreciation for the creative forms of protest and resistance pioneered by African American writers and artists during the mid-20th century;

9. Realize the ways in which the study of African American literature is essential to a cultural, social, economic, political, and historical understanding of Africans in America; and

10. Ask critical questions about the relationship between African American literature, class, gender, culture, and race.

Major Genres of African American Literature13

Autobiography: A book about the life of a person, written by that person.

Biography: A description or account of someone’s life and times usually published in the form of a book or an essay, or in some other form, such as a film. A biography is more than a list of impersonal facts (education, work, relationships, and death); it also portrays the subject’s experience of those events.

Comedy: Writing that deals with life in a humorous way, often poking fun at people’s mistakes.

Drama: A specific genre of literature that combines narrative and performance. The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a collective form of reception. The structure of dramatic texts, unlike other forms of literature, is directly influenced by this collaborative production and collective reception.

Essay: Usually a short piece of writing that is quite often written from an author’s personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The exact nature of the essay is somewhat vague, as its conventions often overlap with those of an article or short story.

Fable: A short story that often uses talking animals as the main characters and teaches an explicit moral or lesson. ← 131 | 132 →

Fantasy: A story set in an imaginary world in which the characters usually have supernatural powers or abilities.

Fiction: The form of any work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary and theoretical—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical, cinematic, or musical work.

Folktales: A general term for different varieties of traditional narrative. The telling of stories appears to be a cultural universal, common to basic and complex societies alike. Folktales in African culture tend to focus on life lessons, family history, the creation story, and general history. Folktales often include proverbs that reflect wisdom and knowledge regarding life experiences.

Historical Fiction: A made-up story that is based on a real time and place in history, so fact is mixed with fiction.

Myth: A traditional story intended to explain some mystery of nature, religious doctrine, or cultural belief. The gods and goddesses of mythology have supernatural powers, but the human characters usually do not.

Nonfiction: The form of any narrative, account, or other communicative works whose assertions and descriptions are understood to be factual. This presentation may be accurate or not—that is, it may give either a true or a false (i.e., biased) account of the subject in question.

Novel: A book-length, fictional prose story. Because of its length, a novel’s characters and plot are usually more developed than those of a short story.

Novella: A written, fictional prose narrative normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.

Poetry: A form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning. Poetry may be written independently, as discrete poems, or may occur in conjunction with other arts, as in poetic drama, hymns, lyrics, or prose poetry. Examples: ballad, blank verse, free verse, elegy, limerick, sonnet.

Prose: The most typical form of language. Prose lacks the more formal structure of a poem, in the guise of either a meter or rhyme, but instead comprises full sentences, which then constitute paragraphs.

Realistic Fiction: Writing that attempts to show life as it really is.

Science Fiction: Writing based on real or imaginary scientific developments and often set in the future.

Short Story: Shorter than a novel, this piece of literature can usually be read in one sitting. Because of its length, it has only a few characters and focuses on one problem or conflict.

Slave Narratives: Personal accounts of the lives of enslaved Africans and their struggles through bondage over the years they were enslaved. Slave narratives provided the most authoritative voices contradicting the slaveholders’ favorable claims concerning slavery. ← 132 | 133 →

Perspectives of African American Literature

During the colonial and early national eras (roughly 1740–1820), Black American authors focused on three major themes: freedom for those enslaved, the necessity of equal rights for members of all groups and the importance of education. These authors made use of all the available literary forms, including poetry, narrative, journalistic essays, and letters. Before the American Civil War (1861–1865), many Black writers were enslaved. They described their experiences on plantations in an attempt to convince readers that enslavement was immoral, as well as showing the courage, humanity and intelligence of enslaved Africans. Frederick Douglass became one of the leading spokesmen for American Blacks in the 1800s after writing his autobiography entitled the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845). William Wells Brown published his autobiography, Narrative of William Wells Brown, a Fugitive Slave in 1847. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) by Harriet Ann Jacobs is also a monumental autobiography of the unique hardships suffered by enslaved African women.14

After enslavement was “abolished” in 1865, African American authors wrote in many different literary forms to protest racial discrimination. In the 1890s and early 1900s, Paul Laurence Dunbar was acclaimed for his romantic poems in Black dialect. However, some of his verses imply bitter social criticism. Charles Waddell Chesnutt sought to revise the negative images of former enslaved Africans by portraying them as intelligent and resourceful in his realistic short stories and novels. Chesnutt is considered to be the first major African American writer of fiction. Such Black women writers as Frances Harper and Pauline Hopkins challenged both racism and sexism in their novels.15 In the mid-1900s, much of the African American literature exposed the bleak conditions of Black life and condemned discrimination against the poor of all races. Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940), Chester Himes’ If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945) and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952) each described a Black man’s quest for identity in a hostile world. Ann Petry’s The Street (1946) described the trials and tribulations of a Black woman in a hostile urban environment. James Baldwin explored the same theme in novels, essays, and dramas set primarily in the urban North, but also expanded his discussion to include individualism, familial strife and sexuality.16

The Reconstruction Era

Following the abolition of enslavement, African American literature was powerfully influenced by a series of important developments: the rapid growth of educational facilities for African Americans, the emergence of a sizeable African American middle class with a vigorous interest in literature, and the founding of African American periodicals and literary societies. In the quest to define a new and positive identity, many African American writers explored their heritage, making use of folklore and oral tradition. Prominent examples of this approach were the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Charles Chesnutt, the first African American writers to achieve a truly national audience. Of equal significance were the first efforts, by George Washington Williams and others, to write comprehensive histories of African Americans in the United States.17

The Harlem Renaissance

Also known as the New Negro Movement and the Negro Renaissance, the Harlem Renaissance flourished from about the mid-1910s to the mid-1930s. As a broad cultural movement, the Harlem Renaissance encompassed all the creative arts (including dance, music, art, theatre, and literature). Recognition of the Harlem Renaissance as a formal literary movement began in 1925 with the publication of Alain Locke’s anthology The New Negro, which presented works by the rising generation of African American authors. The Harlem Renaissance writers followed their literary forebears by celebrating Black culture and racial identity, but they wrote with a new sense of political urgency and an unprecedented interest in psychology, sexuality, and personal revelation.18 ← 133 | 134 →

Midcentury

As the 20th century progressed, African American authors continued to reveal the harsh realities of Black life across America. The naturalistic novels of the 1940s and 1950s brought an unstinting gaze to bear on the lives of rural and urban Blacks, documenting the social and economic hardships they endured. Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940), a story of a boy raised in a Chicago slum who kills for his freedom, established a benchmark for contemporary writers with its visceral depiction of emotion and circumstance. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952) also detailed the life of a young Black male disfranchised by his society. Chester Himes, who began writing while in prison, detailed the prejudice faced by young Black laborers in a World War II defense plant in If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945) and in labor unions in The Lonely Crusade (1947). The youngest writer of this group, James Baldwin, wrote about both racism and homosexuality. He fictionalized his Harlem youth and strict religious upbringing in Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) and explored many sophisticated issues of race and sexuality in the novels Giovanni’s Room (1956) and Another Country (1962).19

Civil Rights Movement

The Black experience became the subject of many poets in the mid-1900s. The early poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks showed her skill in traditional rhyming verse and forms like the sonnet, a fourteen-line poem with a formal arrangement of rhymes. Yet, her words drew on oral Black preaching and street talk. She described the ordinary lives of Blacks and the injustices they suffered. In 1950, Brooks became the first African American to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Like many Black writers of the time, Brooks examined the impact of race and poverty on the African American’s pursuit of the American dream. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s brought forth a number of popular autobiographies including the Autobiography of Malcolm X (in 1965, edited by Alex Haley), Claude Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land (1965), and Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice (1968). Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976) traced his family’s history back through American enslavement to his African ancestors.20

The Black Arts Movement

The Black Arts movement grew out of a changing political and cultural climate in which Black artists attempted to a place for themselves amidst remaining ideologies of the Cold War, decolonization, and the civil rights movement. Black artists and intellectuals like Baraka made it their project to reject older political, cultural, and artistic traditions. “African American artists within the movement sought to create politically engaged work that explored the African American cultural and historical experience.”21 As a literary movement, Black Arts had its roots in groups such as the Umbra Workshop. Umbra (1962) was a collective of young Black writers based in Manhattan’s Lower East Side; major members were writers Steve Cannon, Tom Dent, Al Haynes, David Henderson, Calvin C. Hernton, Joe Johnson, Norman Pritchard, Lenox Raphael, Ishmael Reed, Lorenzo Thomas, James Thompson, Askia M. Touré (Roland Snellings, also a visual artist), Brenda Walcott and musician-writer Archie Shepp. Touré, a major shaper of “cultural nationalism,” directly influenced LeRoi Jones. Along with Umbra writer Charles Patterson and Charles’s brother, William Patterson, Touré joined Jones, Steve Young and others at the Black Arts Repertory Theatre School (BARTS). The initial thrust of Black Arts ideological development came from the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM). Both Touré and Neal were members of RAM. After RAM, the major ideological force shaping the Black Arts movement was the U.S. (as opposed to “them”) organization led by Maulana Karenga. Also ideologically important was Elijah Muhammad’s Chicago-based Nation of Islam. These three formations provided both style and ideological direction for Black Arts artists, including those who were not members of these or any other political organization.22

In 1960 a Black Nationalist literary organization, On Guard for Freedom, was founded on the Lower East Side by Calvin Hicks. Its members included Nannie and Walter Bowe, Harold Cruse (who ← 134 | 135 → was then working on Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, 1967), Tom Dent, Rosa Guy, Joe Johnson, LeRoi Jones, and Sarah E. Wright, among others. From On Guard, Dent, Johnson and Walcott, along with Hernton, Henderson and Touré, established Umbra.23 Another formation of Black writers at that time was the Harlem Writers Guild, led by John O. Killens, which included Maya Angelou, Jean Carey Bond, Rosa Guy and Sarah Wright among others. But the Harlem Writers Guild focused on prose, primarily fiction, which did not have the mass appeal of poetry performed in the dynamic vernacular of the time. Poems could be built around anthems, chants, and political slogans, and thereby used in organizing work, which was not generally the case with novels and short stories.

Details

Pages
XXXIV, 684
ISBN (PDF)
9781433159374
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433159381
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433159398
ISBN (Book)
9781433161308
Language
English
Publication date
2019 (April)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XXXIV, 684 pp., 17 b/w ill., 31 tables

Biographical notes

Nathaniel Norment, Jr. (Author)

Nathaniel Norment, Jr. is the Director of the Writing Lab and Professor in the Department of English at Morehouse College. He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of English at The City College of New York and the Department of African American Studies at Temple University. He is a former Chair and Graduate Director of African American Studies at Temple University where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in African American Studies and African American literature and culture. His publications include The African American Studies Reader (2001, 2007); Readings in African American Language: Aspects, Features and Perspectives (Vol. I 2003, Vol. II 2005); and The Addison Gayle, Jr. Reader (2009). Norment earned his B.S. at Ball State University, his M.S. at Saint Francis University, and his Ph.D. at Fordham University.

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Title: African American Studies