African-American Studies (Minor)

Program Type: Minor
Program Level: Undergraduate
Department: Minors

An interdisciplinary approach to history, culture and experience of African Americans from the 15th Century to the present, the minor program attracts students interested in the African-American experience from either a heritage or intellectual perspective, or a combination of both. It will serve as a foundation experience for students who wish to pursue post-graduate study of the African-American experience. For questions or to join the program contact Dr. Warren Carson, Interim Director of the Center for African American Studies.

History of the Minor

The University of South Carolina Upstate has offered courses in literature, culture and history with an African American focus for many years. In fall 2006, the university began offering a formal minor degree program in African-American studies. 

Scope of the Minor

Students completing the minor program will be introduced to seven major themes throughout their studies:

  • Connections to the African American Past, where students will learn about the pre-Atlantic slave trade world Africa with emphasis on West African civilizations and societies;
  • Becoming African American, where students examine the effects of enslavement on African identity and the construction of an American identity;
  • Race and Identity Issues will examine the political, social and economic impact of the construction of blackness for African Americans;
  • Resistance and Agency will examine the strategies used by African Americans to combat their disempowerment;
  • Spirituality will trace the impact of African American spirituality on culture, community life and political activism;
  • Cultural Expression will examine the material and intellectual contributions of African Americans to literature, music and art;
  • and Liberation will include discussions on how the struggle for freedom and inclusion has shaped the African American experience and impacted the definition of freedom in the United States.

“The classes I have taken have given me the drive to strive – the inspiration – to go on,” he says. Davis adds that the obstacles that African Americans had to endure and the successes they have realized despite all the odds against them, has been “uplifting” and inspirational to him personally. He studied Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois and Claude McKay, citing them as individuals who made their mark on African American history, American history and on him personally.

For more information, visit the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

- USC Upstate alumnus Les Davis, graduated with a communications major and a minor in African American Studies.  

  • Students are required to complete 18 hours, six courses, for the African American Studies minor.

    Core courses (12 credits total):

    • AFAM U201: Introduction to African American Studies (3 credits)
    • AFAM U204: African American Culture (3 credits)
    • ENGL U391: African American Literature or ENGL U429: Harlem Renaissance (3 credits)
    • HIST U310: African American History to 1865 or HIST U311: African American History 1860 to present (3 credits) 

    Two elective courses selected from the following (6 credits total):

    • AFAM U398: Topics in African American Studies (300 and 400 level)
    • ARTH U210: African Art
    • ARTH U304: Southern Folk Art
    • CRJU U380: Minorities, Crime and Criminal Justice
    • CRJU U451: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
    • HIST U495: Topics in African American History
    • JOUR U480: Minorities in the Media
    • MUSC U310: Jazz History
    • SOCY U433: Race and Ethnic Relations
    • Other special topics courses, as approved by the Director of African American Studies
    • K-12 Teacher
    • College Professor
    • Lawyer
    • Social Worker
    • Physician
    • Nurse
    • Journalist
    • Counselor
    • Sports Manager
    • Urban Planner
    • Public Administrator
    • Human Resources Manager
    • Diversity Officer
    • Non-Profit Program Director
    • Community Organizer
    • Michelle Obama, attorney and former First Lady of the United State (BA in Sociology with a minor in African-American Studies from Princeton University)
    • Jesse Wiliams, actor and award-winning activist (Double-major in African American Studies and Film and Media Arts from Temple University)
    • Mae Jemison, physician and NASA astronaut on the Endeavor in 1992 (BA in Afro-American Studies from Stanford University)
    • Aaron MacGruder, cartoonist, writer and creator of teh nationally syndicated comic strip, "The Boondocks" (BA in African-American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park)
    • Richard W. Roberts, US District Court Judge for Washington DC (BA in Black Studies and Political Science from Vassar College)
    • Claudia Thomas, author and first black female orthopedic surgeon in the US (BA in Black Studies from Vassar College)