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Minor in African American Studies 

An interdisciplinary approach to history, culture and experience of African Americans from the fifteenth century to the present, the minor program attracts students interested in the African American experience from either a heritage or intellectual perspective, or a combination of both. It will serve as a foundation experience for students who wish to pursue post-graduate study of the African American experience. For questions or to join the program contact Dr. Cassandra Jones, Director of African American Studies.

Fall 2017 Courses

AFAM 201
Intro to African American Studies
TR 1:40-2:55 p.m. 
TR 12:15-1:30 p.m.
MWF 10:00-10:50 a.m.
MWF  9:00-9:50 a.m.
Instructors TBA

AFAM 204
African American Culture
MW  2:00-3:15 p.m.

AFAM 398-01
TR  10:50 a.m.-12:05 p.m. 

AFAM 398-02
The Black Church in America
TR  9:25 a.m.-10:40 p.m.  

Spring 2017 EventsNtozake Shange

African American Studies 10th Anniversary Celebration Key Note Speaker, Ntozake Shange

Thursday, February 16
4:00 p.m. Reading and Lecture, HEC 2039
8:00 p.m. Live Performance Joined by a Jazz Ensemble, HPAC Theater

Ntozake Shange is the award winning playwright and author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf. 

The events are free and open to the public. However, tickets are required for the 8:00 p.m. performance. Tickets can be reserved in advance by calling the Performance Arts Center Box Office at (864) 503-5695, Monday-Friday from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Tickets will be available for pick-up one hour before the performance.


Lunch & Learn Series

Every Thursday in February
12:00 p.m.
Sandsbury Campus Life Center Dining Hall Quiet Room

Lunches are only $5.50 for Faculty and Staff 

February 9:
"Staying Hopeful: African American Demales Living with HIV" 
Presented by: Dr. Toshua Kennedy

February 16:
"Decoading the Wu Tang Clan"
Presented by: Dr. Michael Blum

February 23:
"Followers not Leaders: The Black Political Image in the White Mind" 
Presented by: Dr. Michael Blum 


African American Studies and Triota present, "Anita"

February 15
5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Tukey Theater

A profile of Anita Hill, the African-American lawyer who challenged Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the US Supreme Court in 1991 and exposed the problem of sexual harassment to the world. Free pizza and drinks provided.

History of the Minor

African American Literature Professor, Warren Carson, with students

The University of South Carolina Upstate has offered courses in literature, culture and history with an African American focus for many years. In fall 2006, the university began offering a formal minor degree program in African American studies. 

Scope of the Minor

Students completing the minor program will be introduced to seven major themes throughout their studies:

  • Connections to the African American Past, where students will learn about the pre-Atlantic slave trade world Africa with emphasis on West African civilizations and societies;
  • Becoming African American, where students examine the effects of enslavement on African identity and the construction of an American identity;
  • Race and Identity Issues will examine the political, social and economic impact of the construction of blackness for African Americans;
  • Resistance and Agency will examine the strategies used by African Americans to combat their disempowerment;
  • Spirituality will trace the impact of African American spirituality on culture, community life and political activism;
  • Cultural Expression will examine the material and intellectual contributions of African Americans to literature, music and art;
  • and Liberation will include discussions on how the struggle for freedom and inclusion has shaped the African American experience and impacted the definition of freedom in the United States.

Les DavisUSC Upstate alumnus Les Davis, graduated with a communications major and a minor in African American Studies.  “The classes I have taken have given me the drive to strive – the inspiration – to go on,” he says. Davis adds that the obstacles that African Americans had to endure and the successes they have realized despite all the odds against them, has been “uplifting” and inspirational to him personally. He studied Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois and Claude McKay, citing them as individuals who made their mark on African American history, American history and on him personally.

Students are required to complete 18 hours, or a minimum of four required courses and two elective courses for the minor degree.

Required courses (12 credits total):

  • SAAS 201: Introduction to African American Studies (3 credits)
  • SAAS 204: African American Culture (3 credits)
  • One of the following--SEGL 391: African American Literature or SEGL 429: Harlem Renaissance (3 credits)
  • One of the following--SHST 310: African American History to 1865 or SHST 311: African American History 1860 to present (3 credits)

Two Elective courses selected from the following (6 credits total):

  • SAAS 398: Topics in African American Studies (300 and 400 level)
  • SATH 210: African Art
  • SATH 304: Southern Folk Art
  • SCRJ 380: Minorities, Crime and Criminal Justice
  • SCRJ 451/SGIS 451: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
  • SHST 495: Topics in African American History
  • SJOU 480: Minorities in the Media
  • SMUS 310: Jazz History
  • SSOC 433: Race and Ethnic Relations

Director of African American Studies                                                    Dr. Cassandra Jones                  

Languages, Literature and Composition
Dr. Celena Kusch
Department Chair

Dr. Araceli Hernández-Laroche
Assistant Department Chair

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