African & African-American Studies at Elon hosts 30th anniversary events

The interdisciplinary minor program began in 1994 and includes courses spanning the liberal arts and includes study abroad opportunities. An opening reception in the Wilhelmina Boyd Office of African and African-American Studies is Thursday, Sept. 14.

Elon’s African and African-American Studies Minor will commemorate its 30th anniversary with a series of events in 2023-24, kicking off with a Thursday, Sept. 14, gathering for students and faculty.

Housed in Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, the African and African-American Studies Minor was founded in 1994. It began as part of the International and Global Studies program with an interdisciplinary focus on African culture, history and politics. In the decades since, faculty and staff have broadened it to encompass topics in African American and Black heritage and culture through courses across art history, English, history, human service studies, music, psychology and sociology. The program also includes study abroad opportunities in Ghana, South Africa, Malawi and Barbados.

“African and African-American Studies at Elon: Celebrating 30 Years of Uplifting Black Voices Through Scholarship, Practice and Mentorship” will run throughout the year with a number of events, panels and speakers.

Students and villagers in a canoe on a river in Ghana
Students tour the village of Mognori in northern Ghana in the 2013 winter term study abroad course, Ghana: An Exploration of West Africa’s History and Culture.

“As we approach the momentous 30th anniversary of the African and African-American Studies Minor at Elon University, it is our hope that students, faculty and staff participate in the numerous engagement opportunities we have to offer,” said Keshia Wall, the program’s coordinator and assistant professor of dance. “These efforts serve as a testament to the deep significance, breadth and enduring influence of this exceptional minor.”

Events this fall include:

  • A reading of “Fat Ham” by James Ijames on Monday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. in the Isabella Cannon Room in the Center for the Arts, part of the Drama and Theatre Studies Program’s Contemporary Play Reading Series and co-sponsored by the African and African-American Studies Program.
  • A 30th Anniversary kick-off reception, Thursday, Sept. 14, at 4:30 p.m. in the Wilhelmina Boyd Office of African and African-American Studies in Alamance 302. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend and meet the minor program’s advisory board, seek out faculty mentors and learn more about the program.
  • A Sept. 28 lunch-and-learn about the practice of redlining in east Greensboro, presented by Carlos Grooms, student success librarian and assistant librarian. The presentation will be at noon, Sept. 28, in the Wilhelmina Boyd Office, Alamance 302. A registration link will be sent through Elon’s Announcements listserv.
  • “The State of Blackness: Education, Politics and Law,” a faculty panel around current trends in African American studies across America, on Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space in Numen Lumen Pavilion. Panelists include: Jessica Carew, associate professor of political science and policy studies; Cherrel Miller Dyce, associate professor and executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the the Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education; Sheila Otieno, assistant professor of religious studies; Sandra Reid, senior lecturer in human service studies; and Wendy Scott, associate dean of special projects and professor of law.

More events are being planned for later this fall and throughout spring 2024, including a formal campus event to mark the official 30th anniversary.

“Over the course of its history, the minor has highlighted various areas, including African studies and Black studies, and I am now intensifying our emphasis on the theme of expression,” said Keshia Wall, program coordinator and assistant professor of dance. “Within African and African-American Studies at Elon (AAASE) students can earn academic credits through international travel in courses with a specific emphasis on Africa and have opportunities to conduct research alongside AAASE faculty members across multiple academic disciplines.”