What Can You Do With An Africana Studies Minor?
Go into Law and Politics…
Be an Elected Official! Be a Lawyer!
Before attending Law school at Harvard University, First Lady Michelle Obama studied Sociology and African American studies at Princeton University. Among her many accomplishments and pursuits, she was the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares youth for public service. She also developed the University of Chicago’s first community service program when she served as its Associate Dean of Student Services. Others making considerable contributions in public service and politics include Carl Andrews (NY State Senate, 2002-2006), Marc Morial (President of the National Urban League; Mayor of New Orleans, 1994-2002), Do Kim (Civil rights attorney & founder of the Korean American Youth Leadership Program), Richard W. Roberts, (US District Court Chief Judge for Washington DC), and Monica Little (Assistant Chief Counsel, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security).
Go into the Classroom…
Be an Educator! Be a Professor! Mold Minds.
Educators are in a prime position to make decisions that impact the world. After all, every future writer, artist, engineer, world leader, astrophysicist, Supreme Court justice, lawyer, and doctor walks through the doors of a teacher. Educators with backgrounds in Africana Studies include Gloria Naylor (educator, novelist, and winner of the National Book Award in 1983 for The Women of Brewster Place), Adrienne Israel (Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean at Guilford College), Jendayi Frazer (Distinguished Professor and former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs), and Dale Colston (Principal librarian in the Newark Public Library).
Go into Business and Industry…
Be an Entrepreneur! Be a CEO! Be a Consultant!
Peter Charles Bernard Bynoe, a Chicago Lawyer and Pro Basketball Franchise Owner, earned a BA in African American studies. He and his business partner were the first African Americans to buy a controlling interest in a National Basketball Association (NBA) team, when they purchased a share of the Denver Nuggets. Other distinguished business leaders include Laurie M. Jonsson (Founding Director of Expedia), Jessica Ingram-Bellamy (Advertising Director for Better World Advertising, a social marketing agency), and Dawn Ridley (Ridley & Associates, LLC, former Senior Vice President of Players INC – the marketing and licensing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association).
Go to Hollywood…
Be an Award-winning Actor/Actress! Be a Screenwriter!
Angela Bassett earned her degree in African American Studies from Yale University. Bassett is well known for portraying real-life iconic figures in history and entertainment including Betty Shabazz, Tina Turner, and Rosa Parks. Other famous Africana folks in the entertainment business include Ray Suarez (Senior Correspondent on Jim Lehrer’s News Hour and former host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation), Sanaa Lathan (actress, Love and Basketball), and Rochelle Brown (producer of Emeril Live). Although Danny Glover (actor and producer, The Color Purple and Lethal Weapon) did not have the chance to major in Black Studies, he was a part of a coalition at San Francisco State University, where students successfully led a five-month strike that led to the establishment of the first Department of Black Studies (and the first College of Ethnic Studies).
Go into Space…
Be an Astronaut! Be a Doctor! Be a Scientist!
Yes, seriously. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel into space, graduated from Stanford University where she studied chemical engineering and African/Afro-American Studies. Before entering NASA’s astronaut training program, she taught and did medical research for two and a half years as an area Peace Corps medical officer in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Other famous scientists with Africana Studies backgrounds include Claudia Thomas (author and first black female orthopedic surgeon in the U.S.), Edward E. Tarver (Chemist & Inventor), and Brian L. Harper (Medical Director and COO of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention). Think there’s no room for Africana Studies in your pre-med path? Remember, medical schools are looking to diversify their programs and accepting more students with less conventional, but well-rounded backgrounds. Africana Studies builds a strong foundation in critical thinking, research, writing, and analysis.
Go into the Creative Arts…
Be an Artist! Be a Writer! Be a Cartoonist!
Pair an interest in Africana Studies with your artistic skills to express lived experiences in African Diasporas. Aaron McGruder is an American cartoonist who graduated with a degree in African American Studies from the University of Maryland. He is best known for writing and drawing The Boondocks, a comic strip and television series about two young African American brothers from inner-city Chicago living with their grandfather in a sedate suburb. Other artists drawing upon training in Africana studies include Rod Brown (comic book artist, Managing Director of Prime Focus Productions), Jill Nelson (Washington Post journalist and novelist), Yacob Williams (mural artist), Irene Smalls (award-winning children’s book author), and E. Ethelbert Miller (poet).
Go into Community & Humanitarian Services…
Be an Advocate! Be a Community Organizer!
Interracial and intercultural experiences in Africana Studies can help students acquire the skillsets needed for competent domestic and international advocacy. Peter Bouckaert (Human Rights Watch, Emergency Director) was a student in the Black Studies and Law & Society Departments at the University of California-Santa Barbara. Human Rights Watch is an independent organization dedicated to protecting human rights, as well as fighting for anti-discrimination, political freedom, and justice, around the world. Other prominent Africana Studies majors/minors making a difference include Wendy D. Puriefoy (President of Public Education Network), Antoinette “Toni” Jackson (Board of Directors and General Counsel for Houston Habitat for Humanity) and Jonah M. Edelman (Executive Director of Hunt Alternatives Fund).
Go…Wherever your Interests Take You!
Be… Whatever you want!
A background in Africana Studies prepares you to enter any career field, whether it is business, law, education, the arts, or medicine. A minor in Africana Studies will provide an invaluable foundation in critical thinking, research, writing and analysis. You will develop all the skills that are at the core of a liberal arts education.