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Our Mission, Our Story
417 Ewing Hall, home of Africana Studies

The Department of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware is an intellectual community committed to producing and advancing knowledge about the rich and varied experiences of Black people across the African Diaspora. Fundamental to our mission is the work of applying the production of knowledge to uplift and empower our communities, ourselves, and to inspire social change and permanent liberation.

A central objective of our Department is to employ an interdisciplinary approach to interrogating the significance and ongoing impact of the history and legacy of slavery and colonialism in the United States, as well as in the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and Europe.

In addition to Africana Studies methodologies, our faculty are trained in a range of disciplines including art and design, art history, history, sociology, cultural studies, performance, anthropology, political science, theology, and literature with teaching and research interests that intersect the Department's four pillars:

o   Pan-African Consciousness

o   Public Humanities

o   Gender and Sexuality studies

o   Visual and Material Culture

Together, the Africana Studies faculty at UD cultivate and advance the Department's mission to engage in research that is accessible and relevant to Black communities, and to practice teaching that develops deeper and broader understandings of justice and freedom in our society.

In the spring of 1968, the Black Student Union occupied the Student Center for a two-day period and presented a list of demands to the University administration. These demands included an increase in the number of black faculty members and the establishment of an Africana Studies Program.  The lobbying of the black students for a program of studies devoted to the black American experience was intended not only to fill a gap in the curriculum (reflecting a history of institutionalized racism) but also to end their feeling of isolation on a campus which remained overwhelmingly white and unwelcoming.

The following year, on the recommendation of the Scarpitti Report, the University began to address the demands presented by the students.  In April of 1969, President Trabant instructed Provost John Shirley to appoint an Africana Studies Program Committee charged with “implementing an appropriate Africana Studies Program…leading eventually to a major in that area”.  Seven months later that committee, chaired by Dr. Robert Rothman, recommended that the University establish an Africana Studies major for the fall of 1970.  This recommendation led to the formation of a new committee, chaired by Dr. Daniel Biebuyck, charged with structuring an Africana Studies Program and laying out the requirements for a major.  The Biebuyck Committee recommended to the University that the Africana Studies Program eventually enjoy departmental status and consist of a Director and a minimum of four faculty.  Quoting the 1968 Yale Report on Africana Studies, the Biebuyck Committee concluded that “the experience of black people…is not merely a suitable object for serious academic study and teaching, but one too relevant, vital, important, and rich in content to ignore”.

In 1971, the University created the Black American Studies Program (now Africana Studies Program) in the College of Arts and Science. The program would eventually offer students an 18-credit hour minor, but not the major that the students demanded and the Scarpitti, Rothman, and Biebuyck Committees recommended. The program was not given departmental status and never had more than three core faculty members until the fall of 2006. The first two directors of the program, Dr. Livinus Ukachi and Dr. Constance Smith, only served for a short time and most of the program’s growth came under the direction of Dr. James Newton, who served from 1973 to 1994. Dr. Newton developed the minor and revised the program’s curricula. Dr. Newton was succeeded by Dr. Carole Marks (1994-2003) and Dr. Howard Johnson (2003-2005). In the fall semester of 2005, Dr. James M. Jones was appointed Director of the Africana Studies Program. Since 2006, AFRA@UD has experienced exponential growth to become the illustrious and highly-ranked Department it is today.


Department of Africana Studies 
417 Ewing Hall
Newark, DE 19716, USA
Phone: 302.831.2897



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about, university of delaware, africana studies, beginnings, mission, story, afra
  • Department of Africana Studies
  • 417 Ewing Hall, 15 Orchard Road
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • University of Delaware
  • Phone: 302-831-2897
  • Center for Black Culture
  • African Studies Program
  • Black Student Union
  • Christina Cultural Arts Center
  • Black Graduate Student Association
  • National Council for Black Students