The Africana Studies Department mourns the passing of emeritus professor, activist, poet, and world-changer, Amiri Baraka (October 7, 1934 - January 9, 2014).
Amiri Baraka's writing career spans over nearly fifty years and has focused on the subjects of Black identity, liberation, racism, and American history. He refused to be constrained by a single literary form, authoring several well-known poetry collections, short stories, his 1964 play “Dutchman” won an Obie award, he penned an African-American music history “Blues People,” and contributed to many anthologies, wrote commentaries on society, music, and literature.
Baraka was also a committed educator. He started college at Rutgers University, but transferred to historically black Howard University. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, taught at the New School for Social Research, George Washington University and various other institutions. However, he began his academic teaching career at Stony Brook University in 1979 and remained a full professor at Stony Brook University’s Department of Africana Studies until his retirement in 1994. Among Baraka’s most important works are the generations of students he inspired and supported at Stony Brook and around the world.
The Stony Brook Africana Studies Department is an intrinsically interdisciplinary unit that focuses on the histories, sociology, philosophy, literatures, politics, anthropology, religions, and experiences of people of African heritage wherever they are found within the larger national and global contexts. In addition to being intensely grounded in the scholarly enterprise, its faculty encourages social commitment, promotes sensitivity to the civil rights of all people, and teaches responsibility to community.
Africana Studies has existed as an academic unit at Stony Brook since 1968. Like other Black Studies programs, it was established as a result of the heated conflicts, debates, and civil unrest that affected civil society in the United States throughout the 1960s. These social upheavals that addressed issues of civil rights were spearheaded by people of various ethnic and racial backgrounds who came from all sectors of US society, but most especially from college campuses throughout the United States. In addition to addressing other important civil rights issues, the social activists who participated in these movements pointed out and sought to rectify the glaring biases and evident intellectual shortcomings manifested in the ways in which the traditional disciplines were being taught on US campuses as they tended to ignore, devalue, and misrepresent the contributions of peoples of African heritage and ancestry and thus distort our understanding of the world.
Vision for the future
The Stony Brook AFS unit obtained formal departmental status in 1998. Over the years, the undergraduate program has consistently enrolled thousands of students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds who find the different courses offered by the AFS faculty intellectually challenging, extremely informative, and exceptionally enlightening. After years of struggle, the Stony Brook Africana Studies Department obtained New York State’s Department of Education’s approval for its Master’s program in 2007. It has already started its Graduate Certificate in Africana Studies. In addition to building a successful Master’s program, our plan is to initiate a BA/MAT degree and also to develop a Doctoral program in African diaspora studies in the not too distant future.
Current Stony Brook’s AFS faculty members are internationally-renowned scholars, with specialization in a variety of disciplines. They have published innovative, ground-breaking, and pioneering works in fields as diverse as slavery and civil rights, Caribbean immigrants’ transnational identities, African American women’s history, black British literature, and Francophone Caribbean literature. Our vision is to refine the interdisciplinary tools of investigation needed for well-grounded and trend-setting Black Studies (multi-prismatic lens, varied methodologies, philosophy of social responsibility) and to focus our research on investigating and seeking answers to contemporary questions about the characteristics and implications of the ever-changing nature and characteristics of the global African Diaspora. In addition, we are interested in shedding light on the various meanings, transmutations, and locations of “Blackness” in the global ecumene of the 21st century, the emergence of transnational identities among the black immigrant populations world-wide, the notions of Black nationalism and Pan-Africanism, the evolutionary intersections of race, class, and gender, the changing characteristics of “Black” writing and literary criticism, as well as the multifarious manifestations of Black activism, community involvement, and social commitment, in order that our students will make a difference in, and contribute significantly to, the life realities of the 21st century.
Scholarship Awards; Bliss Verdon and Richard B. Moore May 25, 2011, SBS S-244
Commencement and Convocation; May 25, 2011, SBS S-244
Congratulations to the first graduates for the Graduate Certificate in Africana Studies
Congratulations to Dr. Dawn P. Harris on her Appointment to full time faculty
Congratulations to Dr. Dawn Harris on the award for a Presidential Mini Grant
We welcome a new Visiting Assistant Professor for Fall 2011 Dr. Zebulon Miletsky
Welcome to the Spring 2014 Semester!
For the most up-to-date information, pictures and relevant discussions, visit the new Stony Brook University Africana Studies Department Facebook page!
Check out the AFS Spring 2014 course offerings! Contact the instructing professor for more information about any of the courses.
Congratulations to Associate Professor of Literature, Tracey L. Walters, who received the Outstanding Faculty Member Award from the Stony Brook University Chapter of the NAACP!
Congratulations to Doloresse Cham, the recipient of the 2013 Bliss Verdon Memorial Scholarship.
Undergraduate Office: 631.632.7470 • Graduate Office: 631.632.7470 • Fax: 631.632.5703