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African-American Studies


Like regular history, only with the rough parts still included.


America is a nation of immigrants. Wave after wave of people came to these shores for a taste of wealth, success, and those tacos that use slices of pizza for the shell. That's what America is all about: a better life.

But African-Americans didn't have the typical immigration experience. They were brought to America forcibly, stolen from their homes and families, and treated abominably…all because the American people needed a hand with all that cotton.

Eep. That and a whole host of other dark, sociohistorical and psychological reasons.

Majoring in African-American studies means confronting some of the worst aspects of human character. Violence, exploitation, human trafficking, and more are part of the history of African-American immigration to the U.S.

But learning to love this discomfort has its upsides. While most history and sociology classes focus on the groups that have the most social and economic power, you, young superhero, will focus on the stories of those "other" Americans. There's no "European-American studies" major because that class is simply called "history" in high school.

African-American voices often get lost in broader narratives of American culture. Ignoring the contributions of an entire set of ethnic groups is unjust. A lack of diversity in your education can lead to a lazy brain and a narrow worldview, too. For these reasons, students staged protests and strikes across the country back in the 1970s. They demanded that African-American studies be made an official major, and whoomp, now it is.

Some people who major in African-American studies do so with some kind of social justice career in mind. It's also a popular minor that can help round out students' college experiences. It can provide depth to a history or sociology major or offer humanist breadth to an engineering or physics major.

Really, the major can be incredibly rewarding to people of any ethnicity, with any career goals. After earning an African-American studies degree, you'll have a richer, and more accurate, understanding of the political and cultural growth of the United States, and the relations between the U.S. and other countries.

Just imagine how useful your wizened worldview will be in your next job interview…let alone your next spiked eggnog-driven chat with your favorite cranky uncle. Good luck out there. It's a crazy world.

Famous People who majored in African-American Studies

  • Angela Bassett, actress
  • Jendayi Frazer, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
  • Mae Jemison (with chemical engineering), NASA astronaut
  • Aaron McGruder, maker of The Boondocks
  • Michelle Obama (with sociology)

Percentage of US students who major in African-American Studies:


Stats obtained from this source.