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

  • 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

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  • Book Reading: Simon Balto- Occupied Territory Policing Black Chicago

    A Room of One's Own is thrilled to welcome Simon Balto, author of Occupied Territory! In Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power, a history of Chicago from 1919 to the rise and fall of Black Power in the 1960s and 1970s, Simon Balto narrates the evolution of racially repressive policing in black neighborhoods as well as how black citizen-activists challenged that repression. Balto demonstrates that punitive practices by and inadequate protection from the police were central to black Chicagoans’ lives long before the late-century "wars" on crime and drugs. By exploring the deeper origins of this toxic system, Balto reveals how modern mass incarceration, built upon racialized police practices, emerged as a fully formed machine of profoundly antiblack subjugation. Simon Balto is assistant professor of history and African American studies at the University of Iowa. Event address: 315 W. Gorham St. Madison, WI 53703-2218

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    Calls and Responses A Symposium on Teaching, Writing, and Community April 26-27 Pyle Center UW Madison

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