In the 1970s, Saint Louis University began offering its first African-American studies classes. As the African-American studies program solidified, the university created a certificate and a contract major, where students put together classes that would be viable for an African-American studies degree and had it signed off by a professor. In the 1990s, African-American studies became a formally instituted program and was granted the ability to graduate traditional bachelor’s degree majors through the program in 2010.
Now the African American studies program will finally become an academic department. Christopher Tinson, the current director of African-American studies at Saint Louis University, stated that departmentalization “gives us more visibility and viability. And also, most importantly, it allows us to hire and tenure our own faculty who have lines in African American studies.”
“Education and African descendants go hand in hand, and we always want to make sure people understand that and appreciate that,” Dr. Tinson added. “We’re here to celebrate that, as well as produce new people who can carry on that tradition.”
Dr. Tinson, who also serves as an associate professor of history, is the author of Radical Intellect: Liberator Magazine and Black Activism in the 1960s (University of North Carolina Press, 2017). He is a graduate of California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he majored in Africana studies and English literature. Dr. Tinson holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Afro-American studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.