The Afro-American Studies program was not a new academic field when it was first offered at Vanderbilt University in 1969. Historically Black colleges and universities, such as Fisk University, were leaders in developing the curriculum. At Vanderbilt, the subject had lived on the margins of some disciplines prior to this time.
During the early 1960s, student movements intersected the Black freedom struggle. Campus visibility led numerous US institutions to offer courses and programs about the African American experience. Many programs were only instituted after protracted campus and community struggles. Grassroots activism is a major reason that, in 2019, the Department of African American and Diaspora Studies celebrated fifty years at Vanderbilt.
Digital exhibit curated by Jason M. Schultz