In 1969, UNCG’s History Department proposed the first course in African American history to be taught by Richard Bardolph, a white faculty member who had published in the field. Students, however, insisted that the course must be taught by an African American instructor. For one experimental year in 1970, Bardolph traded courses with his colleague at North Carolina A&T, Frank White. The following year, the History Department hired an African-American specialist, Loren Schweninger. A former student of John Hope Franklin at the University of Chicago, Schweninger continued teaching history courses on race and slavery until his 2012 retirement.
While there was considerable discussion of a Black Studies program through the 1970s and a number of departments across campus joined the History Department in offering courses focused on African American history and culture, an official interdisciplinary minor in Black Studies was not offered until 1982. Students chose their classes from eleven existing social science, humanities, and music courses. Dr. Lee Bernick of the Department of Political Science was chosen as the first chairman of the Black Studies Program.
During 1985-1986 academic year, UNCG offered its first Black Studies specific courses. One course, Blacks in America: Historical and Cultural Perspective (BKS 100), provided a “historical analysis of Afro-American culture. Topics included are West Africa, folk culture, religion, music, drama, film, literature, family and kinship patterns, and black consciousness.” The other course was Blacks in American Society: Social, Economic, and Political Perspectives (BKS 110). This course focused on the “social, political, economic experience of blacks in the United States. Topics include the black family, Civil Rights Movement, black politicians, and blacks in the labor market.”
In 1992-1993, the Black Studies Program officially changed its name to the African American Studies Program.
Black Studies Program Chairs:
- Angela Rhone (1991-1992, continued as chair after the name change)
- Willie L. Baber (1989-1991)
- Ed Bell (1987-1989)
- Lee Bernick (1982-1987)