History of the African-American Studies Department

 

The African-American Studies program grew out of demands from African-American students who were attending the University of Mississippi. On February 25, 1970, over 80 of these students demonstrated at the university for the establishment of a Black Studies program and the hiring of black faculty and administrators. After the protest, a number of students were arrested. Protesters were housed in Lafayette County jail, and over forty were sent to Parchman prison until they were bonded out. Eventually, eight students were expelled from the university, but in the fall of that year, the university hired Ms. Jeanette Jennings as the first black faculty member. Also during that year, the first classes were offered under the Black Studies Program. During its history, the program has published three newsletters, developed the Afro-American Novel project, and organized conferences on Richard Wright, Black Language, Archeology, and the Annual Experience of Black Mississippians.

 

Chronology of African-American Studies Program Administrators

 

(1970 - 1978) Dr. Harry P. Owens & Ms. Jeanette Jennings- Co-advisors of Black Studies Program

(1978 - 1980) Dr. Cleveland Donald- First Director of Black Studies Program

(1980 - 1981) Dr. Cleveland- took leave of absence to work at the National Endowment for the Humanities

(1980 - 1981) Mr. Donald Cole- appointed coordinator of Black Studies Program

(1981 - 1982) Dr. Thomas Eric Green - Acting Director of Black Studies Program

(1983- 1989) Dr. Ronald Bailey- Director of Black Studies Program which was renamed Afro-American Studies Program

(1989-1990) Ms. Marilyn M. Thomas-Houston- Coordinator of the Afro-American Studies Program

(1990) Dr. Bruce B. Williams- Acting Director of the Afro-American Program (during search for permanent director)

(1990-2003) Dr. James F. Payne- Director of Afro-American Studies which was renamed African-American Studies

(2003) Dr. Charles Ross- Interim Director of African-American Studies

 

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