Take this quiz: Can you cite the works of Zora Neale Hurston, the achievements of W.E.B. DuBois or the films of Spike Lee? Each is a central character in African American studies, yet their stories just scratch the surface of the African-American experience. From Kanye West to Cornel West, and from Jim Crow to James Baldwin, the topics covered in African American studies are broad, unique and fascinating. Whether your major is biology, economics, theatre or something entirely different, a minor in African American studies can add tremendous value to your studies. You’ll be taught by professors from a number of different disciplines – English, political science, history, religious studies, philosophy, music, women’s and gender studies, and theatre – all of whom bring different perspectives to the subject matter. In addition, the city of Charleston is closely tied, both historically and culturally, to the African-American experience in this country.
- During the height of the Atlantic slave trade, nearly 40 percent of the Africans brought into the U.S. entered through Charleston.
- The Charleston Jazz Initiative, a collaboration of the arts management program at the College and the Avery Research Center, is a research project that documents the rich African-American jazz tradition in the Carolina Lowcountry. The list of jazz greats includes the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and James Jamerson who, for a number of years, was a bassist with the Funk Brothers, Motown’s studio band.
- The archival collections, museum exhibitions, jazz concerts and public programming of the College’s Avery Research Center are tremendous resources for students in the program.
So, if you want to develop a better understanding of the African-American experience, whether that involves the Harlem Renaissance or the legacy of the civil rights movement, check out the African American studies program at the College of Charleston.
– Kimberly Arnold ’12