With the African-American studies minor launching fall 2019, students received the addition with sighs of relief and longing.
Many students view the new minor as a step toward a more inclusive university but others are disappointed the university took so long to take action. Black Women United President Kayla Thompson thinks Texas State is headed in the right direction, but she wishes she could have gotten the chance to minor in African-American studies before her senior year.
“I think it’s long overdue, but I’m happy it’s happening,” Thompson said. “I think it’ll have a lasting effect (on black students) because we will finally have people we can relate to in class.”
The minor will require 18 hours including two prerequisite courses, leaving space for four electives in the areas of African-American culture and history. Once the minor is available, students will be able to apply any courses they are currently taking or have taken in the past toward the minor if needed. Courses will range from “African-American experience in Texas” to “Politics, Power, and Identity in Hip Hop Literature.” The full list of courses can be viewed online.
Black students throughout the nation have petitioned for African-American programs at their respective universities for decades. These student-led efforts date as far back as 1968 when members of the Afro-American Student Union proposed an interdisciplinary degree program for black studies at Berkeley. At Texas State, students have requested the minor for years. Texas State is among the last of the largest public universities in Texas to offer the minor.
The idea for an African-American studies minor at Texas was first proposed in 2014 by members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which petitioned the school to begin a program implementing African-American studies curriculum.
International studies freshman Emily Montes is optimistic about the effects the minor could bring to campus despite the long wait.
“I wish a program like this would have been available for students sooner, but at the same time, I’m glad. You have to start somewhere,” Montes said. “I think adding the AAS minor is just what the school needed to fulfill its mission for diversity and inclusiveness. Who knows, maybe this will encourage more people to come to Texas State.”
The proposal for the minor came to fruition after representatives from all nine colleges at Texas State created the African American Studies Minor Committee, lead by Audwin Anderson, director of the Center for Diversity and Gender Studies, in February 2018. Since then, monthly meetings and reports have been held. It wasn’t until January 25, 2019, that the proposal was officially accepted by the University Curriculum Committee.
“I think it gives (African-Americans) an opportunity to see their experiences in the curriculum. But I also think it’s important for all students at Texas State,” Anderson said. “The minor will deal with the African diaspora and the experiences of people from the continent of Africa as well as people from all over the world. I don’t see how you can understand yourself in your country without an understanding of those experiences.”