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African American Studies (alternately named Afroamerican studies, or in US education, black studies) is an interdisciplinary
Intensive academic efforts to reconstruct African American history began in the late 19th century (
Programs and departments of African American Studies were first created in the 1960s and 1970s as a result of inter-ethnic student and faculty activism at many universities, sparked by a five-month strike for black studies at
Black studies is a systematic way of studying black people in the world – such as their history, culture, sociology, and religion. It is a study of the black experience and the effect of society on them and their effect within society. This study aims to, among other things, help eradicate many racial stereotypes. Black studies implements history, family structure, social and economic pressures, stereotypes, and gender relationships.
In the United States the 1960s is rightfully known as the "Turbulent Sixties." During this time period the nation experienced great social unrest, as residents challenged the social order in radical ways. Many movements took place in the United States during this time period, including women’s rights movement, labor rights movement, and the civil rights movement.
The students at the
Two months later students at UC Berkeley organized sit-in at the Sproul Hall Administration building to protest an unfair rule which prohibited all political clubs from fundraising, excluding the democrat and republican clubs. Police arrested 800 students. Students a “Freedom of Speech Movement” and Mario Savio became its poetic leader, stating that “freedom of speech was something that represents the very dignity of what a human is...." The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a well-connected and organized club, hosted a conference entitled “Black Power and its Challenges". Black leaders who were directly tied to then ongoing civil rights movements spoke to a predominantly white audience about their respective goals and challenges. These leaders included
Educational conferences like that of SDS forced the university to take some measures to correct the most obvious racial issue on campus—the sparse black student population. In 1966 the school held its first official racial and ethnic survey, it which it was discovered that the “American Negro” represented 1.02% of the university population. In 1968 the university instituted its Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) facilitated the increased minority student enrollment, and offered financial aid to minority students with high potential. By 1970 there were 1,400 EOP students. As the minority student population increased tension between activists clubs and minorities rose, because minority wanted the reigns of the movement that affected them directly. One student asserted that it was “backward to educate white people about Black Power when many black people are still uneducated on the matter. ”The members of the Afro-American Student Union (AASU) proposed an academic department called “Black Studies” in April 1968. "We demand a program of 'Black Studies,' a program that will be of and for black people. We demand to be educated realistically and that no form of education which attempts to lie to us, or otherwise miss-educate us will be accepted."
AASU members asserted that “The young people of America are the inheritors of what is undoubtedly one of the most challenging, and threatening set of social circumstances that has ever fallen upon a generation of young people in history...." AASU used these claims to gain ground on their proposal to create a black studies department. Nathan Hare, a sociology professor at San Francisco State University, created what was known as the “A Conceptual Proposal for Black Studies” and AASU used Hare’s framework to create a set of criteria. A Black Studies Program was implemented by UC Berkeley administration on January 13, 1969. In 1969,
Similar activism was happening outside of California. At
One of the major setbacks with Black Studies/African American Studies Programs or departments is that there is a lack of financial resources available to students and faculty. Many universities and colleges around the country provided Black Studies programs with small budgets and therefore it is difficult for the department to purchase materials and hire staff. Because the budget allocated to Black Studies is limited, some faculty are jointly appointed, therefore causing faculty to leave their home disciplines to teach a discipline with which they may not be familiar. Budgetary issues make it difficult for Black Studies Programs and departments to function and to promote themselves.
In the past thirty years there has been a steady decline of Black studies scholars.
African American studies scholars have often explored the unique experiences of black boys/men. This line of research dates back to W. E. B. Dubois in his analysis of black male training in his 1903 book