About Us

The African American Studies Program building, located at 138 Mountfort.

The African American Studies Program building, located at 138 Mountfort.

Boston University’s African American Studies program is one of the oldest in the country, founded in 1969, and has a long history of involvement in both practical and academic aspects of the African American Experience. Our goal is to allow students a broad based perspective on the African American experience that will serve for more advanced study or professional lives.

At Boston University we study this experience in a global perspective. That means we compare and contrast the experience of African –descended people in the United States with those who have similar histories elsewhere in the world—in Africa itself, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. We try to understand how political patterns of these various regions have created opportunities and disadvantages for African –descended people, and we also pay attention to the particularities of the United States and its engagement with the descendants of slaves.

Our program is multi-disciplinary with scholars from History, Political Science, Sociology, Economics, English, Art History and more contributing to our classes. Most classes are cross-listed with other departments and there is room for students to pursue special interests as well as the background goals of the program. The program is also rigorous as befits a one-year program. In addition to a range of course, all students will prepare and defend a major paper.

The African American Experience has always been the acid test of the American Dream. The degree to which the promise of America for fair play, equal opportunity, and social mobility to those willing to work hard and take some risks rises and falls on the degree to which this promise is true for African Americans. For many years, the status of African Americans was a quiet scandal that embarrassed the United States, but beginning in the 1960s, massive social movements began to make that record change.

The United States has done better than many post-slaveholding societies in guaranteeing social justice for the descendants of former slaves, but it is clear that it still has a long way to go. The special problems and potentials of the African American community is an interesting issue to study and explore.