African and Black American Studies
People could wrongly assume that the Black Lives Matter movement is merely a response to recent acts of police brutality. But for students of African American literature, systemic forms of racism and police brutality have been rampant in the United States for decades. Jean Toomer’s Cane, Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem, Ann Petry’s The Street, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Alice Walker’sThe Color Purple are just a few works that picture white officers violating blacks with impunity or examine the impact such brutality has on blacks.
In fact, violence against black people is not limited to the American continent. Throughout history slavery, colonialism and imperialism have had a dire impact on Africa and its diasporas and their ability to develop strong, secure governments and economies. But this is not a story of despair. People are moving, inventing, creating, and working in cutting edge fields in fashion, literature, sustainability, and others.
In African and Black American Studies, students are taught how to do sophisticated forms of textual, cultural, historical, and political analysis and to formulate the necessary writing and speaking skills to communicate their ideas. With a wide range of class offerings, students master a significant body of information and formulate a variety of conceptual frameworks for making sense of African and black American contributions to history, literature, culture, and politics.
Given Africa’s and black America’s massive, pervasive, and enduring impact on the contemporary world, and given the prominent role of race and ethnicity in political, policy, and other public debates, an understanding of African and black American culture and history is important for those entering law, politics, education, journalism, sociology, business, literature, the languages, and many other fields.
In addition to academic pursuits, Morris has active student groups. The Black Student Union and Women of Color Association provide opportunities for students to gather and share ideas. The Multicultural Student Leadership Retreat is an annual event for students, faculty, and staff to discuss diversity issues and effect positive change on campus.