Center for African American Studies


In support of the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives of USC Upstate, The Center for African American Studies (CAAS) sits at the center of the university’s intellectual engagement with the African American experience. The center, and its affiliate faculty oversee the university’s minor in African American Studies, and an interdisciplinary curriculum that allows students to explore the rich culture and histories of African Americans and build valuable critical thinking and qualitative analysis skills. The center also seeks to develop and sustain extra-curricular intellectual discussions about the African American experience through its campus and community programming initiatives.

Vision Statement

Through curricular and extra-curricular programming, USC Upstate’s Center for African American studies seeks to serve the campus and greater community as a crossroads for the intellectual examination of the African American experience in the region, state, and southeastern United States. 

Minor in African American Studies

The University of South Carolina Upstate’s minor in African American Studies provides an opportunity for students interrogate the African American experience from an interdisciplinary perspective.  The eighteen credit hour curriculum takes students on an intellectual journey exploring the major ideas of leading African American thinkers, the historical and cultural dynamics of the African American experience, and the literary voices of African American writers, all while helping students build valuable critical thinking and communication skills relevant for the 21st century workforce.

Classroom to Career: Opportunities in African American Studies

The CAAS “Classroom to Career” program introduces USC Upstate students to a range of internship and career opportunities ideal for students engaged in studying the African American experience. The “Classroom to Career” program provides student a chance to dialogue with professionals working in fields where the intellectual insights, skills, and tools gained through African American studies coursework holds value.

CAAS “State of the Field Address:” New Directions in African American Studies

The “CAAS State of the Field Address” invites a leading African American Studies scholar to USC Upstate to discuss their recent work in the context of a forward looking African American Studies discipline, and the new lines of intellectual inquiry charting the future direction of the field.

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  • An Evening with Dr. Millicent E. Brown: Another Sojourner Looking for Truth

    Monday, April 1
    6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
    Campus Life Center Ballroom

    Join us for a conversation with Dr. Millicent Brown, a lifelong community advocate and spokesperson for economic, social and educational improvements in impoverished neighborhoods and communities of color throughout the South, the nation and the world.

    Speaking Truth to Size: Examining the Intersection of Body Size and Black Language with Dr. Dywanna Smith 

    March 12, 2024
    Health Education Complex and online

    The presentation delves into the complex relationship between body size and Black language. It explores how societal perceptions of body size intersect with linguistic expressions within the Black community.

    Black History Month 2024: Taking the Lead


    USC Upstate Faculty Sip and Learn
    12:00-1:30 p.m. | Campus Life Center (CLC) 309
    Join USC Upstate professors as they share their life’s research related to the Black experience with hot tea and doughnuts.

    • February 1 “Young Leaders Inspired by Hip Hop” with Jaquial Durham
    • February 8 “Wrestling with Representation: How the Label ‘Black Art’ Both Empowers and Constrains” with Andriea Wardlaw
    • February 21 “The Critical Discussion We Need to Have: Mixed Feelings about Gender, Religion and Race” with Dr. Keith McDaniels & Dr. Peter Caster


    “Black History: From the Nile to the Niger to the Rivers in the US”
    Dr. Gloria Boutte, Presenter
    6:00-7:00 p.m. | Virtual


    Show Screening: “Genius: MLK/X”
    5:30-7:30 p.m. | Health Education Complex (HEC) 2039
    Join us for a free screening of the Netflix film and a conversation with Producer Sam Sokolow.
    Popcorn provided by Intercultural Education & Engagement.


    Movie: “True Justice: Bryant Stevenson’s Fight for Equality”
    6:00-8:00 p.m. | University Readiness Center (URC Great Room)
    Event and free popcorn sponsored by Intercultural Education & Engagement.


    “Hidden Wounds: Black Trauma and Intergenerational Healing”
    Terance Dawkins, Presenter
    6:00-7:30 p.m. | Health Education Complex (HEC) 2086 Smith Boardroom

    Black History Month 2024 Flyer (PDF)

    past events

    Black Entrepreneur Empowerment Session
    Discussions and Insights
    Speaker: Jeanette Brewster, Host: Khala Hawes
    October 9, 2023
    University Readiness Center

    Guests engaged with local Black entrepreneurs from the Greenville-Spartanburg region and explored historically Black business with Spartanburg High School’s scholars. The event included a keynote speaker and a panel of business owners.

    Entrepreneur Empowerment Session Flyer (PDF)

    Documentary Screening
    “Southern Prison Culture: Understanding the Prison Culture of the South”
    October 23, 2023
    USC Library Tukey Theatre

    This documentary illustrates recidivism rates and combines them with raw qualitative first-hand accounts of prison life from former inmates to give viewers a riveting and jaw dropping look at prison culture in the South. The screening included a discussion with Director Jaquial Durham.

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  • Adjunct faculty

    Jaquial Durham
    Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration, The George Washington University
    Bachelor of Arts in African and African American Studies, Winston Salem State University
    Associates of Science in Sociology

    Marceo Keith McDaniel
    Doctor of Ministry, United Theological Seminary
    Master of Divinity, Duke University
    Bachelor of Arts, Shaw University

    Andriea Wardlaw
    Master of Arts in African American Studies, Columbia University
    Bachelor of Arts, History; Minor: African American Studies, University of South Carolina

The Director

Walter A. Lee, PhD
Interim Director, Center for African American Studies

For questions about the center, its programming, or the minor in African American Studies please contact Dr. Lee at