Africana Studies department

Winter Session Class Discussion of Malcolm X by William Morgenstern
"Winter Session Class Discussion of Malcolm X" by William Morgenstern, Winter 1971. University Photographs, UARC Photos-08-0507. View larger.
Pioneering Africana Studies Faculty Members by William Boyd
Pioneering Africana Studies Faculty Members by William Boyd, 1973. University Photographs, UARC Photos-07-01-0005. View larger.

A UMBC Senate passed resolution during the 1970-1971 academic year stated: That the discipline of Afro-American Studies be establish[ed] by September 1971.” Mazi Dr. E.N. Njaka was hired as coordinator of the program, with the same status as a department chair, and a panel of experts including Dr. S.N. Nwabara from the University of Nigeria, Dr. Beeman Patterson from Ohio State University, and Dr. Uma Eleazu from the UMBC English Department (formerly chair of Afro-American Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills) were charged with submitting the course of study. The program was approved by the Maryland Council for Higher Education (MCHE) on December 8, 1972, thereby creating the new department now called Africana Studies. This approval was the first time that the MCHE sanctioned an Africana course of studies leading to a B.A. degree. Prior to this approval, related courses were offered as General course offerings. Seen in the photograph are students Walter Brown and Eric Smothers leading GENL 8224: Life and Works of Malcolm X during the 1971 Winter Session.

The African-American Studies Department planning committee meeting in 1973 included Dr. Daphne Harrison (second from left). After Dr. Njaka stepped down, Dr. Harrison served as Acting Director of the department; a search was instituted that resulted in the appointment of Dr. Willie Bediako Lamousé-Smith as the new department chair in 1975. The department revamped its curriculum and added new courses in the areas of the African diaspora in Africa, North America, and the Caribbean. In addition, the W.E.B. Dubois Distinguished Lecture Series was established. Harrison succeeded Lamousé-Smith as chair, serving from 1981 to 1992. Harrison gained international renown for her book Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920 and later became the first director of the UMBC Center for the Humanities. On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the department in 1995, it was renamed the Africana Studies Department.