The Department of Afro-American Studies is committed to bringing academic research to the broadest possible audience, within and beyond the walls of the university. We believe that the deepest understanding of the complex reality of race in America requires a truly interdisciplinary approach, one that draws on history and literature, the social sciences and the arts.

Approved by the Board of Regents in 1970, the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is an outgrowth of the student concern for relevance in higher education which was so dramatically evidenced on many college campuses during the late 1960s. Today, the department offers a wide variety of courses leading to both undergraduate and graduate degrees and is one of the most successful programs in the country.

Henry Ossawa Tanner Zora Neale Hurston W.E.B. Du Bois Ida B. Wells Spike Lee Marvin Gaye Fanne Lou Hamer

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Photo Credits, left to right

  1. Henry Ossawa Tanner, June 21, 1859–May 25, 1937, Public domain
  2. Ida B. Wells, July 16, 1862–March 25, 1931, Public Domain
  3. W.E.B. Du Bois, February 23, 1868–August 27, 1963, Public Domain
  4. Zora Neale Hurston January 7, 1891–January 28, 1960, U.S. Library of Congerss [1], Reproduction Number LC-USZ62-62394 (b&w film copy neg.) Card #2004672085, Author unknown. No known restrictions on publication.
  5. Fannie Lou Hamer, October 6, 1917–March 14, 1977, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
  6. Marvin Gaye, April 2, 1939–April 1, 1984, E Azala Hackley Collection, Detroit Public Library.
  7. Spike Lee, born March 20, 1957, David Shankbone (the photo license allowing commercial and non-commercial use is public.)

News & Events

  • Afro-American Studies Letter SRO Contract

    AAS Letter re SRO Contract   To:     Members of the Madison School Board of Education From: The Department of Afro-American Studies RE:    Security Resource Officers Date: June 29, 2020   As scholars and teachers of …

  • Statement of Solidarity in Support of George Floyd 

    Statement of Solidarity in Support of George Floyd    The Afro-American Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is appalled, outraged and heartbroken by the brutal and senseless murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in our sister …

  • Michael Thornton Retires!

    After 30+ years at UW-Madison in the Department of Afro-American Studies, Dr. Michael Thornton is retiring. He leaves with an outstanding record of scholarly achievement, teaching excellence and service to department, the university, and the …

  • More 'News & Events'