Letter To The Editor: The Need For An Africana Studies Ph.D. Program

Dear President Wayne Frederick,

Howard University is the leading institution of higher education for the African Diaspora. In line with the University’s mission to “provide an educational experience of exceptional quality,” there has always been a tradition of scholarly excellence with regard to the experience of its inhabitants. As one of the first places where students can engage the history & culture of the African Diaspora, Howard’s legacy is enveloped in her commitment “to the discovery of solutions to the human problems in the U.S. and throughout the world.” And the opening of an Africana Studies Ph.D. program, under this administration, would be the perfect way to honor that commitment.

As engaged students who are invested in continuing the tradition, we watched the webcast on October 11th, as it was a great sign for the President to be so accessible to and transparent with the Howard community. Furthermore, we were elated to hear your positive response in reference to the potential Ph.D. program. Demands for such an endeavor precede the founding of our present undergraduate Afro-American Studies department in 1968. And pushes a Ph.D. program specifically can be traced back to the 1980s. We are here to extend that discourse.

It has long been our dream to continue our education at the Mecca. Under the guidance of Dr. Greg Kimathi Carr, Africana Studies positively impacts & provides a myriad of opportunities to the campus-community. Every Spring Break, Dr. Mario Beatty encouraged and preps students to present their research at ASCAC (Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization (ASCAC)’s annual conference. Those are just the opportunities in the states. Our department’s faculty and YAALI (Young AfricanA Leadership Initiative), advised by Dr. Amy Yeboah, coordinate trips abroad to Egypt, Ghana, Haiti & South Africa. Dr. Valethia Watkins’ role as Director of the Women’s Studies program is another contribution to HU Africana’s diverse offerings. As the first HBCU with a Ph.D program, The Mecca would have the opportunity to uniquely frame the discipline. We have the only Afro-American/Africana Studies department that with five professors who hold Ph.D’s in the discipline. Our professors have additional experience in the fields of Caribbean Studies, Egyptology, & Law.

An Africana Studies Ph.D program at the Howard University would not only be an insurgent space for the production of knowledge about African people on our own terms, but also an interdisciplinary search for global solutions to human problems. We hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

African Student Association                                Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Beta Chapter

Gates Millennium Scholars, HU Chapter           Kwame Ture Society

Limitless COAS Council                                        NAACP,  Howard Chapter

Nsaa Drum & Dance Ensemble                           Ubiquity Inc.

YAALI