From the black studies movement to the Obama era: introduction to this issue.

Author:Byrd, W. Carson

This special issue of the Journal of Pan African Studies contains articles written by faculty members of the University of Louisville's Department of Pan-African Studies as they, along with their students and the university community, commemorate the department's 40th anniversary since its founding in 1973. A department exhibiting a similar history as others in the field, the Louisville's department was born out of strife and tension to establish a counter-center for the black community on campus (Rojas, 2007). The faculty and students of today's department carry the torch of those that came before us with continuing efforts to bridge our scholarship and teaching with our community connection to promote critical examinations of issues and ideas within and influencing the African diaspora. These efforts have not gone without challenge or near-death experiences for the department and its faculty. Many of these experiences and history are examined through Dr. Joy Carew's discussion of a recent oral history project, referred to as the PAS Elders Project. In her article, Dr. Carew documents how five key faculty members established, sustained, and grew the University of Louisville's department throughout years of waning support and doubt of the legitimacy and importance of Pan-African Studies in academia.

Dr. Tomarra Adams continues the exploration of the importance of Pan-African Studies in relation to students, specifically those that enter the University of Louisville's department. In her article, Dr. Adams discusses the "Black Studies Effect" as an integral facet of the field's departments and programs that assist students academically, interpersonally, and socially as they transition to college. Dr. Theresa Rajack-Talley describes the positioning of graduate programs including the recently launched doctoral program in the Department of Pan-African Studies at the University of Louisville. This discussion also examines the responses from graduates of the first decade of the master's program to identity the key influences of a Black Studies degree and faculty on the intellectual and personal development of graduate students. Dr. Latrice Best and Dr. Carson Byrd continue the discussion of graduate training in the field by discussing the importance of incorporating more quantitative methods. By increasing students' knowledge of such methods, Black Studies graduates can contribute more critical perspectives to the issues and experiences of...

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