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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

W.E.B. Du Bois Department


Welcome to the official website for the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass Amherst.  The Department is an intellectual, professional, and social community that stands at the forefront of global education and research on people of African descent in the United States and the world.  Please browse the site to learn more about who we are and what we do behind the doors of New Africa House on the UMass flagship campus and beyond. (Photo by Ed Cohen)

Black Women and the Arts in the 21st Century

View video here (click on flyer)

See photos on facebook!


March 10th, 2014 7:00 -9:30 p.m.

Mullins Center, UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. – An event featuring three prominent African-American artists — Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison, singer and social activist Bernice Johnson Reagon and poet and playwright Sonia Sanchez.






Black Passports: Travel Memoirs as a Tool for Youth Empowerment, by Stephanie Y. Evans (Ph.D.2003)

A resource guide that uses African American memoir to address a variety of issues related to mentoring and curriculum development.

Summary: In this resource guide for fostering youth empowerment, Stephanie Y. Evans offers creative commentary on two hundred autobiographies that contain African American travel memoirs of places around the world. The narratives are by such well-known figures as Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Billie Holiday, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Muhammad Ali, Richard Pryor, Angela Davis, Condoleezza Rice, and President Barack Obama, as well as by many lesser-known travelers. The book addresses a variety of issues related to mentoring and curriculum development. It serves as a tool for “literary mentoring,” where students of all ages can gain knowledge and wisdom from texts in the same way achieved by one-on-one mentoring, and it also provides ideas for incorporating these memoirs into lessons on history, geography, vocabulary, and writing. Focusing on four main mentoring themes—life, school, work, and cultural exchange—Evans encourages readers to comb the texts for models of how to manage attitudes, behaviors, and choices in order to be successful in transnational settings.

“This book provides a new and refreshing way to think about Black youth and issues of empowerment. It will be a useful tool for teachers, parents, scholars, and community organizers, leaders, and activists.” — Valerie Grim, Indiana University Bloomington









Power, Politics, and the Decline of the Civil Rights Movement: A Fragile Coalition, 1967-1973, by Christopher P. Lehman (Ph.D. 2002)

Overview: Focusing on four major civil rights groups, Power, Politics, and the Decline of the Civil Rights Movement: A Fragile Coalition, 1967–1973 documents how factions within the movement and sabotage from the federal government led to the gradual splintering of the Civil Rights Movement. Well-known historian Christopher P. Lehman builds his case convincingly, utilizing his original research on the Movement's later years—a period typically overlooked and unexamined in the existing ...








The Path to the Greater, Freer, Truer World: Southern Civil Rights and Anticolonialism, 1937-1955, by Lindsey Swindall (Ph.D. 2007)

Overview: The Southern Negro Youth Congress and the Council on African Affairs were two organizations created as part of the early civil rights efforts to address race and labor issues during the Great Depression. They fought within a leftist, Pan-African framework against disenfranchisement, segregation, labor exploitation, and colonialism.

By situating the development of the SNYC and the Council on African Affairs within the scope of the long civil rights movement, Lindsey Swindall reveals how these groups conceptualized the U.S. South as being central to their vision of a global African diaspora. Both organizations illustrate well the progressive collaborations that maintained an international awareness during World War II. Cleavages from anti-radical repression in the postwar years are also evident in the dismantling of these groups when they became casualties of the early Cold War.





The Esther M. Terry Award: Distinguished Dissertations in Afro-American Studies

Ernest Gibson, Ph.D. 2012

Dissertation Title: "In Search of the Fraternal: Salvific Manhood and Male Intimacy in the Fiction of James Baldwin"

Chair: James Smethurst

James Carroll, Ph.D. 2013

Dissertation Title: "Composing the African Atlantic: Sun Ra, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and the Poetics of African Diasporic Composition"

Chair: Steven Tracy

Presented on Friday, May 9th, 2014 (See program here).

Past Recipients of the Esther M. Terry Award:

Christopher Tinson, Ph.D. 2010

Dissertation Title: "The Fight for Freedom Must Be Fought on all Fronts: Liberator Magazine and Black Radicalism, 1960-1971"

Chair: Ernest Allen, Jr.

Kabria Baumgartner, Ph.D. 2011

Dissertation Title: "Intellect, Liberty, Life: Women's Activism and the Politics of Black Education in Antebellum America"

Chair: Manisha Sinha

Jonathan Fenderson, Ph.D. 2011

Dissertation Title: "'Journey Toward a Black Aesthetic': Hoyt Fuller, the Black Arts Movement and the Black Intellectual Community"

Chair: James Smethurst

Johanna Ortner, Ph.D. candidate, won the Graduate School's Dissertation Research Grant for 2014-15. Congratulations!

Alex Carter, Ph.D. candidate, celebrates at the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies 50th

Two UMass AfroAm affiliates win fellowships in the newly inaugurated Mellon Program in  African American History at the Library Company, Philadelphia!

Kabria Baumgartner, UMass Afro Am alumnus and Assistant Professor of  History at the College of Wooster, Ohio won the Mellon Post Doctoral  Fellowship in African American History

Doctoral student Emahunn Raheem Ali Campbell has won the Mellon  Dissertation Fellowship in African American History

*See facebook link for photos of “Black Women and the Arts in the 21st Century”event featuring Toni Morrison, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Sonia Sanchez.

Kelli Morgan, Ph.D. candidate, is the second Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in African American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art. She will begin her position in late May. Kelli's interests include nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty first-century African American Art, particularly representations of the Black female body in various contexts.  

Kelli also received the Ford Foundation Fellowship for 2014-2015. She is the first one in our department to be awarded the fellowship.

Thank you to Ph.D. student Kelli Morgan for her thoughts on African American women's bodies in art, and their opportunities in the art world through a biography of renowned artist Elizabeth Catlett. This is the fifth in a series that pays tribute to Black History Month.
Read along with us!


David Lucander (Ph.D. 2010) received tenure and was promoted to Assistant Professor at Rockland Community College in the Pluralism and Diversity Department. Look for his upcoming book, Winning the War for Democracy: The March on Washington Movement, 1941-1946 this fall on University of Illinois Press.



Christopher Lehman (Ph.D. 2002) quoted in NY Times!

Professor Manisha Sinha was invited to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014. See link:

Also, Professor Manisha Sinha's latest on "12 Years a Slave" in the NY Daily News:

National Council for Black Studies Presidential Award Given to Shabazz

Amilcar Shabazz, professor of Afro-American Studies and faculty advisor to the chancellor for diversity and excellence, has received the National Council for Black Studies’ Presidential Award, conferred at its 38th annual conference on March 8 in Miami. Click here for details.


New England Regional Student Program (NERP)

Afro-American Studies Majors Qualify from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The NERP allows students from the six New England states, who are enrolled in certain programs not offered by their home-state public college or universities, to pay a reduced tuition rate. Not all programs are available in the NERP at UMass.

See the Registrar's Office for details.

Check out our Department News & Events Page for more....

On the evening of January 4, 2013 William Cronon, President of the American Historical Association, awarded the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies with the AHA's Institutional Equity Award for its training and placing of minority historians in the academy. Manisha Sinha, Graduate Program Director and the Jobs Placement Officer of the department for its History-Politics track accepted the award on behalf of the department.

Established over 40 years ago, the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of the oldest African American Studies departments in the country. In 1996, this department established a pioneering doctoral program in African American Studies, emphasizing solid disciplinary training in history.  As one of the referees highlighted: "Not only was this doctoral program one of the first in the country but it has since its founding graduated a record number of minority students who have gone on to tenure track positions in history throughout the country."  As one graduate of the department noted, "I learned how to think like a historian and how to be a historian in the academy....Not only did I receive great mentorship, but the graduate program also encouraged me to mentor others, including undergraduate students whom I taught."

This prize is given to recognize individuals and institutions that have achieved excellence in recruiting and retaining underrepresented racial and ethnic groups into the historical profession.  The Department will be recognized during the awards ceremony at the Annual Meeting in New Orleans. You can find information on the AHA's web site, at


The November 2012 newsletter of the Organization of American Historians has a brief article, accompanied by a pie chart,  that begins as follows: "African American history topics were the most popular for the OAH Distinguished Lectureship Program during the 2011-2012,accounting for nearly a quarter of all lectures given."  We are glad that there is such an interest in African American history. We also must acknowledge that the need for scholars in this field is not being met by the full time faculty at many of the institutions requesting guest lecturers. Our department  will continue to do our part in producing first rate graduates who will be available as openings occur.    Professors John Bracey, a Life Member of the OAH since 1964, and Manisha Sinha have served as Distinguished Lecturers for several years.  

*Click on chart for pdf version.


Department Links:



College of Humanities & Fine Arts

Faculty Presentation Grants (CHFA)

ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst Afro-Am Collections

Afro-Am Librarian-Isabel Espinal

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Studies


NCBS Online

The African Studies Review



Make a Gift to Afro-American Studies




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W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

329 New Africa House
180 Infirmary Way, UMass Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003
Phone: (413) 545- 2751
Fax: (413) 545-0628




News & Events

Professor John Bracey, Chair, Afro-American Studies

WPFW Interview on Wednesday, May 21st at 11 a.m.

Click here to listen!

Visit their website at

Fall 2014 Course Guide


AFROAM 293N "Voices of New Africa, Part I"

Tuesdays 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Register on Spire today!