UMass Amherst’s Amilcar Shabazz Inaugurated as President of The National Council for Black Studies

Amilcar Shabazz
Amilcar Shabazz

AMHERST, Mass. – Amilcar Shabazz, professor in the W.E.B. Du Bois department of Afro-American studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been inaugurated as the new president of the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS) at the group’s annual conference held recently in New Orleans.

Shabazz says the 2019 conference was a great success and that he is pleased to serve as NCBS president on the 50th anniversary for many academic Africana Studies programs across the country.

Alphonso Simpson of Western Illinois University was inaugurated as the vice president of NCBS at the organization’s 43rd annual conference.

The NCBS, Shabazz says, “Operates as a big tent bringing together everyone who wishes to build the systematic study of the African World experience, as well as expand and strengthen academic units and community programs devoted to this endeavor. The National Council for Black Studies is committed to academic excellence, social responsibility and cultural grounding, and the sky’s the limit to what we will accomplish over the next 50 years.”

In 2014, Shabazz, who was then faculty advisor to the chancellor for diversity and excellence, received the NCBS’ Presidential Award, conferred at its annual conference in Miami.

Shabazz was elected NCBS national secretary in 2012 and, as a life member of the council, has been a member of its national board since 2009. He was lauded as an authority on the history of desegregation of higher education and diversity policies in schools, and as a leading figure in the internationalization of Africana studies.

He serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Black Studies and The Black Scholar, two of Africana studies’ oldest and most distinguished journals, as well as The Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship.

Shabazz joined the university in 2007 and has twice served as department chair. He continues to teach in the department with an emphasis on the political economy of social and cultural movements, education and public policy. His book Advancing Democracy: African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas was the winner of the T.R. Fehrenbach Book Award and other scholarly recognitions. The Forty Acres Documents, a volume he co-edited with Imari Obadele and Johnita Scott Obadele and for which he wrote the introduction, was one of the earliest scholarly works in the modern movement for reparations for slavery and the racial oppression of people of African descent in North America.

Shabazz has been a Fulbright Senior Specialist and has done work in Brazil, Ghana, Japan, Cuba and other countries. He was selected for the 2014-15 class of the American Council on Education Fellows Program.

Born in Beaumont, Texas, Shabazz graduated from Monsignor Kelly High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from The University of Texas at Austin, a master’s from Lamar University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston, both in history. He was an associate professor of history and director of the American Studies Program at Oklahoma State University, as well as the founding director of its Center for Africana Studies & Development. Prior to that he served as the first director of the African American Studies Program at The University of Alabama while also becoming a tenured professor of American Studies.

NCBS is the premier professional organization of Africana studies scholars in the world and was founded in 1975. UMass Amherst was the host site of the 2nd annual conference when John Bracey was in his first term as department head. The late Chet Davis, a former faculty member, was an active member of the council for many years.