The demand for African American Studies at the University of Alabama has its roots in the late 1960s. Led by African American students, the student body called for the creation of courses with a focus on race or an emphasis on African American historical or contemporary issues, the hiring of black faculty members, and accepting credits in black studies courses from Stillman College. In 1991 a minor in African American Studies was established at the University of Alabama.
In 1997, the University hired the first African American Studies Program Director, Dr. Amilcar Shabazz. Through the stewardship of Dr. Shabazz the program became an important source of African American scholarship, service, and teaching in the state of Alabama.
In 2007, Dr. DoVeanna Fulton Minor was hired as the Director of the African American Studies program. During her tenure, the number of declared minors in African American Studies increased and the profile of the program continued to grow. The approval in 2009 of the Shared Program of Instruction for a Major in African American Studies with UA and UAB was a significant change in the educational scope of the program. During the 2009-2010 academic year, the African American Studies Program and the Women’s Studies Program were combined into the Department of Gender and Race Studies.
Gender and Race Studies offers both a minor and major in African American Studies, as well as a minor and a master’s program in Women’s Studies. Course offerings in the Department of Gender and Race Studies reflect the assumption that the study of the theory, practices, and politics of both areas improves our understanding of society. The Department and its faculty actively promote the course program through lecture series, seminars, study abroad programs, and work with other institutions at the University of Alabama.
In addition to the department faculty who offer graduate-level African American studies courses, faculty affiliated with the program in other departments across the campus offer a wide range of courses in African American Studies. Some of the graduate-level African American Studies courses may be listed under Women’s Studies, as that is the Master of Arts that the department currently offers.
As the flagship institution of the state of Alabama, the University of Alabama has a coterie of nationally and internationally recognized faculty whose scholarship and teaching interests in African American Studies reflect the level of intellectual productivity and engagement that makes UA one of the foremost research institutions in the nation. The work in African American Studies at the Department of Gender and Race Studies provides an important intellectual resource for research at the University of Alabama.