Africana Studies Academics
The Africana Studies Department -- previously known as Black American Studies -- was founded at SIU in 1968, in response to student, community and staff demands that the course offerings of the university become more relevant to a student population hungry for knowledge that would help them make sense of a world exploding with war protests, civil rights demonstrations, and struggles for justice for women and other ethnic minority populations in the United States.
There was an urgent need for a curriculum that would address long-suppressed black history; that would take pride in the literary, political, social and educational accomplishments of people of African descent the world over; that would diversify the classroom, from textbooks to teachers. Students then and now developed analytical tools by which they could retrieve important information from the African and American past, interpret historical and cultural texts from a broader perspective than was usually found in classrooms, and connect their lived experiences with the lives and struggles of centuries of Africans enslaved and free. The Black American Studies program at SIU thrived and grew over the next 40+ years and was officially re-established as the Department of Africana Studies on June 21, 2010. Africana Studies at SIU Carbondale honors these traditional goals and today provides a strong educational foundation in history, aesthetics, social theory and fine and performing arts.