As of two weeks ago today, the NCAA officially cleared UNC of any violations. There will be no championships vacated, no banners taken and no (more) shame brought to our university. A six-year scandal is finally coming to a close. While everything seems great in the land of the Tar Heels, we have forgotten that one defendant has been found guilty — at least in the court of opinion. While the greater institution have gotten off scot-free, the reputation of the department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies has been greatly tarnished.
While no other Black studies department at a Division 1 institution has been the solely implicated department in an athletic-academic scandal of this size, I would argue that this is not an anomaly. The way in which UNC hung the AAAD department out to dry is just another example of the way that the greater society, both academic and nonacademic, treats Black studies.
Founded in the wake of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, black studies curriculums (and later departments) began as a result of student activists protesting racial injustice and the growing population of Black students at historically white institutions.
The first to establish a department, with a chair, faculty and staff, and a formal bachelor’s degree program was San Francisco State University in 1968. Similar programs followed at UC Berkeley and Yale University. Many institutions with Black studies majors do not house the program in its own department. In the case of NC State, their Africana Studies program is housed in Interdisciplinary Studies.
Not surprisingly, most doctoral degree granting institutions still do not offer master’s level or doctoral degrees in the discipline. Some may offer graduate certificates in the discipline, but very few institutions offer full fledged Ph.D. programs. UNC offers neither a graduate or a doctoral degree.