The dedication of the new learning space for the Department of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University Thursday was the result of 25 years of planning, associate dean of undergraduate education Glenn Chambers said.
The Department of African American and African Studies was formed in 2019 and focuses on Black feminism, gender and sexuality studies. The department began offering degrees and minors earlier this year.
The event served as a marquee for the program, a celebration of Black culture and a sigh of relief for those involved in the more than two decades-long efforts to form the department within the College of Arts and Letters.
“After so much effort by so many people, this is the strongest sign I have seen in my time here at MSU that, yes, we are serious about being whole,” said Christopher Long, dean of the College of Arts and Letters. “That we will take on the responsibility that comes with being healthy.”
Ruth Nichole Brown, inaugural chairperson of the department, said that the work of her and her colleagues will leave a lasting impact on MSU’s campus and community.
“This is a dream come true,” she said. “This is only possible because Black struggle, Black joy and those who we know are yet to come.”
The department’s designated space on the second floor North Kedzie Hall includes several classrooms along with community spaces, a lounge, dance studio and recording booth.
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Jabbar Bennett, vice president and chief diversity officer of the department, said Black studies “change and save lives.”
He also praised the program for offering, “a different type of enlightenment and education, a different type of understanding, a different type of taking action, and hopefully resulting in different outcomes – better outcomes.”
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