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

  • An Evening with Jazz Author Maxine Gordon & the UW Blue Note Ensemble

      Thursday, October 31st 7:30pm, Collins Recital Hall in the UW Hamel Music Center, 740 University Avenue. Free admission. Celebrating the life and legacy of legendary jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon in words and music, this …

  • African Americans In Europe: London, Copenhagen, and Paris

    Next Wednesday, October 16th, Afro-American Studies Professor Ethelene Whitmire will be on a panel about African Americans in Europe: London, Copenhagen, and Paris in Chicago at the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago. "African Americans have been traveling to and living in Europe since and before the end of slavery, right up to the present. Perhaps most famously noted in the writings of James Baldwin. Join us for a discussion of some of the varied aspects of this long and wonderfully complex story."

  • The Department of Afro-American Studies welcomes 2 new faculty members.

    Brittney Michelle Edmonds is an interdisciplinary scholar of 20th and 21st Century African American literature and culture. She researches and specializes in the study of black critical humor after 1968. Her scholarship and her courses …

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