Skip to content Skip to navigation

Stanford’s African and African American Studies program turns 50

Students in the African and African American Studies program visit the California African American Museum in Los Angeles in 2017.

(Image credit: Victor Bashorun)

Stanford junior Dayonna Tucker still remembers feeling unsure during Admit Weekend what her future studies would look like.

“Studying my heritage and where I come from has directly increased my self-esteem and how I see African American communities,” said Tucker, who is majoring in AAAS and minoring in creative writing. “The biggest reward has been the connections I’ve made with the program’s faculty, students and staff. We are all like family to each other.”

This winter quarter, the Program in African and African American Studies marked 50 years since its first cohort of 13 Stanford undergraduates began their coursework.

The interdisciplinary program offers a major and a minor in the study of history, culture and sociology of African Americans and people in the African diaspora. It is the oldest ethnic studies program developed at Stanford and the first African and African American Studies program created at a private institution in the United States.

“We strive to create a place where students of all backgrounds could have conversations about racial justice, equity and how to make the world a better place,” said Allyson Hobbs, director of the program and associate professor of American history in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford.

Hobbs emphasized the importance of studying African and African American history in a time when racial disparities still exist across society, from education to health care and criminal justice systems.