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African American Studies
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About the Program

African American Studies (AAMS)

African American studies is a discipline that focuses squarely on the Black experience in the United States and in the African Diaspora across time and space. As an area of academic inquiry, it spreads beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries, yet it still, as Dr. Perry Hall once noted, “comprises one discreet, integral body of knowledge.”

Unlike many other disciplines which were born as a result of faculty deliberations, the history African American studies is deeply rooted in the protest and student movements of the 1960s - particularly the Civil Rights movement - which called into question the disconnect between America’s core values and its anti-democratic practices. While the first AAMS department was not established until 1968, the forbearers of the discipline include great luminaries such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Anna Julia Cooper, W.E.B. DuBois, C.L.R. James, and Carter G. Woodson.

Today, AAMS explores the full range of the multifaceted and interrelated cultures and experiences of African Americans and people of African descent. In doing so, it allows us to engage complex issues in innovative ways that are oftentimes beyond the scope of conventional fields. In this way, AAMS is an applied discipline, as its scholars have worked to address many of the problems of Black communities across the nation and around the world. This is just one of the many lasting contributions that AAMS has made to the academy.

Finally, at Winthrop, AAMS has attracted students from a variety of fields of study, including art, dance, history, mass communications, world languages, political science, psychology, and sociology. Thus, it complements all majors.