Center for African American Studies

About CAAS

In support of the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives of USC Upstate, The Center for African American Studies (CAAS) sits at the center of the university’s intellectual engagement with the African American experience.  The center, and its affiliate faculty oversee the university’s minor in African American Studies, and an interdisciplinary curriculum that allows students to explore the rich culture and histories of African Americans and build valuable critical thinking and qualitative analysis skills.  The center also seeks to develop and sustain extra-curricular intellectual discussions about the African American experience through its campus and community programming initiatives.    

Vision Statement

Through curricular and extra-curricular programming, USC Upstate’s Center for African American studies seeks to serve the campus and greater community as a crossroads for the intellectual examinationof the African American experience in the region, state, and southeastern United States. 

The Director

Dr. Nicholas Gaffney Nicholas Gaffney, PhD
Director, Center for African American Studies

Dr. Gaffney joined the University of South Carolina Upstate in 2020 and teaches courses on African American culture and the African American 20th century freedom struggle.  His research focuses on the intersections of African American cultural production and socio-political activism.  His current book project, Jazz Goes to Work: The Jazz Community and the Black Freedom Struggle from the New Negro Movement to the Black Arts Revolution, 1900-1980 explains why and how black activists called upon jazz and the jazz community to support their movements, and the political work that jazz performed in helping these activists to accomplish their goals.

For questions about the center, its programming, or the minor in African American Studies please contact Dr. Gaffney at