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Studies & Degrees in Afro-American Studies

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The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, is one of the black Americans who fit the description of an Afro-American or African American, being an American of African ancestry. His immediate family is the First Family of African American descent in the US. His father is from Lou, the third largest ethnic group in Kenya in Eastern Africa, one of the five regions of Africa, the second most populous continent in the world.

The word Afro-American originated through a long struggle of the people of Africa for recognition of their rights as citizens and their dignity as humans. They were called Africans when first brought to the US in 1600 and described as black at the end of the 17th century. Into the end of the 18th century, the black Americans began to seek ways of better referring to themselves in order for them to command respect and to shake off their oppressive experiences in the past. It was in 1890 when Afro-American was used as a term by an African American publication that advocated equality among the African American people in the US.

During the 20th century, the term African underwent changes in succession from colored to Negro or from Negro to black to emphasize heritage rather than color. The term Afro-American has lost some of its popularity in recent times but its place has been taken by the similar term African American which has also been popular since the 1980s. Currently Africans Americans, Afro-Americans or Black Americans all refer to the citizens or residents of the US, who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa.

Programs and departments on African American Studies began to be established in the 1960s in the wake of inter-ethnic and faculty activisms in various schools. From the first Black Studies program offered in 1968 at San Francisco State, various programs on Afro-American studies have been offered in various institutions apparently to provide students with a comprehensive knowledge of the African American experience, and an in-depth understanding of various aspects of African America, and to stress the importance of traditional values and institutions to the definition and meaning of modern African society.

In the Afro-American Studies, undergraduate, graduate and Master’s degree programs find their way to many colleges and universities. The most common areas of study include Contemporary Afro-American Society, Race in American Literature, Black Music and American Cultural History, Black Women Studies, African American Literature, African American History, History of Racial Protest Movements in America, Afro-American Art and Architecture, African Diaspora, African and Afro-American Linkages, Blacks, Film and Society, Black Feminisms, Mutual Perceptions of Racial Minorities, Race, Class and Social Conflict, Slavery in the American South, African American Families, History of Civil Rights Movements in the United States, History, Anthropology, Politics, World Arts and Cultures, Latin American Studies, and many other related areas.

Graduates of Afro-American Studies in both the undergraduate and Master’s degree programs face bright career opportunities in certain fields identified by some of the institutions themselves, such as policy-making and business management offices, academic institutions, basic research firms, law, foreign service, journalism, city planning, medicine, public relations, social work, performing arts, public health organizations, and medical anthropology. They are also well-qualified to be educational consultants, college instructors, community development officers, and public administrators.