Africana Peoples and Africana Studies on

National and International Stages from the 1920s to the Present

The 1920s were crucial years for the advancement and the study of Africana people and history in the United States of America. In 1920, Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr. sponsored the first international convention of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Conventioneers met in New York City, New York, where they advocated Pan-Africanism as well as educational, political, and workplace opportunities for people of African descent. In 1921, trailblazers Georgiana Rose Simpson earned a Ph.D. degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago in Illinois, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander a Ph.D. degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and Eva Beatrice Dykes a Ph.D. degree in language studies from Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1923, anthropologist and historian William Leo Hansberry instructed the first course on African civilization at Howard University in Washington, DC. Hansberry stressed the existence of civilized societies in Africa long before comparable societies in Europe. During the same year as his inaugural course, the National Urban League began publishing Opportunity: Journal of Negro Life. Charles Spurgeon Johnson edited Opportunity, which featured works by influential African Americans such as Eugene Kinckle Jones, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Edith Spurlock Sampson. In 1925, The New Negro, edited by Alain LeRoy Locke, featured writers and visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance. One year later, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg sold his collection of books and artifacts to the Carnegie Corporation. In time, the collection became a central feature of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. Meanwhile, his contemporary, Mordecai Wyatt Johnson, served as the first African American president of Howard University. Johnson entered the presidency in 1926 and did not exit it until 1960. Throughout that span of time, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois solidified his position as one of the preeminent scholar-activists in the US. Du Bois relocated to Ghana in 1961 and resumed work on his Encyclop√¶dia Africana, but he died in 1963 before completing that potentially groundbreaking volume. 

The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois appeared in 1968. During the same year, Nathan Hare of San Francisco State University in California coordinated the first Black Studies program and chaired the first Black Studies Department in the US. Since then, the nomenclature of Black Studies has expanded to include Africana Studies, among other identifiers, and its myriad fields have grown nationally and internationally. Transdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and global at its core, Africana/Black Studies invites scholars, students, and laypeople of all creeds and colors to engage in fruitful reflection, analysis, and publishing about the African Diaspora.