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African American Studies proudly celebrates its 50th year this academic year of 2018-2019.  Like so much of the social change of the 1960s, our program began in struggle, when a group of brave students occupied Fisk Hall on February 21, 1969. With the covert help of Professor Edgar F. Beckham ‘58, they entered before classes began, chained the doors shut, and demanded that Wesleyan give more support to its Black community. Out of this peaceful protest, Wesleyan established Malcolm X House dormitory, the Center for African American Studies, and students founded Ujamaa, our Black student union.

The Black students who graduated that spring became known as the Vanguard Class of 1969, and we honor them during their 50th reunion, along with the students of that era, for their pathbreaking efforts. We express our gratitude that we are the beneficiaries of the struggle they waged to bring the university current with cutting-edge scholarship and teaching in Black history, literature, and the arts, along with race theory, and critical approaches in Anthropology, Religion, Science, and beyond.

The Center for African American Studies, in collaboration with other groups on campus, will be hosting and co-sponsoring events throughout the year to honor the Vanguard Class and the 50th Anniversary of African American Studies, ending with a grand celebration during reunion commencement weekend. 

Wes AFAM Turns 50 - Talks and Events on Blackness, Race, Sexuality, and Power

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