EWU Africana Studies celebrates 50-year anniversary


Courtesy of the Africana Studies' Facebook

The EWU Africana Studies graphic celebrates the program’s 50-year anniversary. The program started in 1968.

By Shandra Haggerty, Reporter

For the past 50 years, the Africana Studies program at EWU has culturally enriched students interested in examining and interpreting the experiences and culture of African Americans and others of African descent.

Students who major in race and cultural studies or minor in Africana Studies will learn to work with diverse groups of people and develop strong cultural intelligence. Even those who don’t plan on pursuing a degree in Africana Studies are encouraged to take courses in the program,  which are cross listed with departments such as english, art and history.

“50 years of Africana Studies is a real celebration for everyone,” program director Dr. Scott Finnie said. “It has in its roots that we’re all brothers and sisters in this thing called the human race, don’t be fooled by the shades of our skin, that’s virtually only skin deep.”  

The first Africana Studies program started in 1966 at San Francisco State College.

“Students wanted a body,” Finnie said. “They wanted an arsenal, a study and discipline just on the African American experience.”

“Eventually in 68 after a tumultuous amount of meetings marches and rallies, finally they began to realize this thing called African American studies is pretty legit,” Finnie said.

It took the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. however, to get everybody on board.

“Dr. King’s legacy, his devotion, his commitment and his vision could only be preserved in scholarship,” Finnie said. “That’s when the idea of African American studies is spread through the country like wildfire, landing here at Eastern.”

EWU’s Africana Studies program began then in 1968 after many meetings and discussions.

“It became clear that it was only a matter of time before what we have was up and running,” Finnie said. “That was only the seeds of it, what San Francisco State foreshadowed and with Dr. King’s assassination turned it into an imperative.”

Schools that offer Africana Studies allow students a chance to explore, analyze and interperet the influence of African culture on civilization.

“There must be black studies,” Finnie said. “If we don’t bring in the full perspective of the panoramic story of humanity it’s a disservice not only to black students but white students, brown, red, green, yellow or blue, whatever other kinds of students.”