African American Studies Program at UH Honored by National Council For Black Studies

Annual award recognizes academic excellence and community partnerships

The National Council for Black Studies honored the African American Studies (AAS) Program at the University of Houston with its Sankore Award. The award is given annually and recognizes the outstanding African American Studies program of the year and its contributions to the field of Africana Studies. "We are proud to receive this award that is a testament to our dedicated and hardworking staff and faculty," said James Conyers, professor of African American Studies and director of the program. "We look forward to advances in our program and to strengthening our faculty recruitment and development components."

The organization announced the award during its 32nd Annual convention in Atlanta, Ga. Judges considered faculty research production and publication, partnerships in the community and academic excellence. Past award recipients have included the African American Studies programs at Georgia State, Dillard and Purdue universities. "The African American Studies program and its leadership exemplifies the two main principals of the organization-academic excellence and social responsibility," Charles Jones, president of the NCBS, said. "We considered the program's Study Abroad Program, its lecture series and its external links to the African American community, like the S.H.A.P.E. Community Center and the Shrine of the Black Madonna."

The African American Studies program at UH was established in 1969 and focuses on the history, culture, life and contributions of people of African descent. Its mission is to provide students with a comprehensive, quality education and the opportunity for a creative, intellectual experience based on the critical and systematic study of the life, thought and practice of African peoples. Currently, more than 170 UH students are pursuing minors in African American Studies. Many are assisted by scholarships, and raising funds for scholarships is a priority for the program.

The Study Abroad component works through partnerships with the University of Ghana in West Africa, the University of Cape Coast and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. Students can earn six hours of credit with the summer program. The annual lecture series brings scholars from across the country to UH to discuss diverse topics. The lectures are free and open to the public. Guests have included filmmakers Spike Lee and M. K. Asante Jr.

The AAS program includes elective classes in African Americans and the Law, Black Leaders of the 20th Century and The Black Church in America, taught by Cardinal Aswad Walker, pastor of the Shrine of the Black Madonna. In addition, the Graduate Certificate in African American Studies is gaining the attention of students. The nine-hour program includes study on Africana religion and biography, a seminar on Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and a course on research methods and theory.

For more information about the UH African American Studies Program, visit

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