African American students marching in a parade carrying banner.

African American Studies

The minor in African American Studies provides an interdisciplinary investigation of the experiences, conditions, origins, accomplishments and contributions of people of African ancestry in the United States. Students may deepen their appreciation and understanding of African Americans by studying their earlier history in Africa, their transition to the New World and their diasporic experiences in other parts of the world.

The African American Studies program is comprised of more than 20 courses offered through nearly 10 departments and programs within the USA College of Arts and Sciences. The minor in African American Studies takes advantage of those characteristics of the African American experience that make it uniquely valuable for serious academic study and teaching, for it exposes students to the diversity and unity of the African American experience as well as to the similarities and differences among the cultures of Africa.

Upcoming event:

Join us for an upcoming event! After a successful first conversation in June, Dr. Laura Vrana, Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies, will facilitate another Zoom discussion, Deliberate Dialogue: Discussing 2020 with Contemporary African American authors on Thursday, July 30th at 7 p.m. This time, the discussion will feature three short pieces written over recent weeks about current events including two by Danez Smith and Roxane Gay. Please email her for the Zoom link and copies of the three texts or with any questions.

Reading recommendations for summer 2020:

African American Studies faculty have compiled a list of texts by African American authors across genres that might shed light on current events. Contact us for more ideas or information!

  • Detective Fiction: Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley (2019)
  • Speculative Fiction: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (2000), The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2016)
  • Satire: The Sellout by Paul Beatty (2016)
  • Literary Fiction: Iron City by Lloyd Brown (1951), Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (2017), An American Marriage: A
  • Novel by Tayari Jones (2018)
  • Poetry: The Essential Etheridge Knight (1986), Don’t Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine (2004), Citizen by Claudia
  • Rankine (2014), Felon: Poems by Reginald Dwayne Betts (2019)
  Latest News
Dr. Kern Jackson and Researchers at South are Involved in Ongoing Projects Related to the Clotilda
Dr. Kern Jackson and Researchers at South are Involved in Ongoing Projects Related to the Clotilda
Tuesday - June 23, 2020
A new Africatown Heritage House facility is being planned to house artifacts from the Clotilda, the recently rediscovered last ship to bring captive Africans into slavery in the U.S. just before the Civil War began.
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Dr. Laura Vrana Appears on the WPFW Radio
Dr. Laura Vrana Appears on the WPFW Radio's "On the Margin"
Tuesday - June 23, 2020
Dr. Laura Vrana, an assistant professor in the Department of English, recently appeared on the WPFW radio program "On the Margin," hosted by eminent black poet-scholar E. Ethelbert Miller.
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Dr. Matthew Pettway Recently Publishes New Book
Dr. Matthew Pettway Recently Publishes New Book
Tuesday - June 23, 2020
Dr. Matthew Pettway, an assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literature, recently published "Cuban Literature in the Age of Black Insurrection: Manzano, Plácido, and Afro-Latino Religion."
Read more