Out of the Revolution: Development of African Studies

By Durham, Joseph T. | Negro Educational Review, April-July 2004 | Go to article overview

Out of the Revolution: Development of African Studies


Durham, Joseph T., Negro Educational Review


Out of the Revolution: Development of African Studies; Delores P. Aldridge and Charlene Young. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books 2003. 583 pp., paper.

This book attempts to provide the reader with a frame of reference for understanding the beginning, the development, and implementation of Black Studies. This frame of reference is provided in Part Two.

In Part One, an essay by James Stewart, "The Field and Functions of Black Studies: Towards an Accurate Assessment of the state of Black Studies in 1970s and 1980s", identifies the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS) as the national professional organization of scholars of black history. The Council has discovered that there are about 220 identifiable Black Studies units in higher education.

A variety of names are used: Black Studies, Afro-American Studies, and African-American Studies. These designations refer principally to African Americans in the United States, although studies of classical African civilizations, postclassical Africa and the African diaspora are integral components of the database.

In the essay, "African Studies and Epistemology", Russell Adams traces the origins of the movement which he says began between 1918 and 1929 when black scholars actively participated in the mass awakening of the general black population. By the mid-1930s the question of AfroAmerican studies was entirely the domain of the black intelligentsia. Then there was a lull around World War II and a revival of interest roughly around 1960.

In Part Three, the development of Black Studies curricula with the introduction to the university and the subsequent development is discussed. William Wilson's essay on "Black Studies, Student Activism and the Academy", recognizes that American universities are conservative institutions and usually are reluctant to respond to the urgent needs of urban America. It is only when there is active social protest that American universities respond.

Having few avenues to influence power within the university, the black students have been compelled to pursue a form of mass politics based on omnipresent threat of violent disruption (p. 79).

This essay deals thoroughly with the Equal Educational Opportunities Program at the University of Illinois and how the program got off on the wrong foot because of inadequate planning. Also the A.C.T.O.N. program of The Ohio State University is discussed. An examination of student activist programs suggests that campus activist programs must be tied to larger community mobilization efforts. The involvement of the university through its black newspapers, black business groups, and black churches can keep the pressure on because university officials sometimes think that the campus activism will wan over time.

In the essay, "African Studies at Tennessee State University: Traditions and Diversity", the establishment of African Studies at that university is discussed and a detailed chronology is presented. Also in this section of the book there are essays on the founding of the Association of Negro Life and History under Carter G. Woodson, the African Heritage Studies Association, and the National Council for Black Studies.

An essay, "Education in a Multicultural Society: The Role of Black Studies", ends this section. In this essay the point is made that our society is diverse and we cannot plan a curriculum for the public schools that ignores the diversity of cultures. One of the great impediments to the development of effective multicultural curricula is culturally insensitive teachers and a school that has an all-white administration and an all-black custodial staff. There is a need to include Black Studies in teacher education programs so that the traditional European notion of curriculum is changed.

In Part Four, Black Women and African Studies, in Chapters 11-14, the book presents essays on the role of black women in African Studies. In the essay, "Black Women, Feminism, and Black Studies", it is noted that black women do not support white Women's Studies because they believe that white feminist theory is an inappropriate model for African women who have never shared the same experiences with sexism as white women have. …

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