AFR50 | 1969-2019


During the 2018-2019 academic year, Williams College will commemorate 50 years of Africana Studies, an interdisciplinary field of study that emerged during the 1960s Freedom Movements, and that expands our knowledge of the vast experiences of people of Africa and the African Diaspora. Founded in 1969 as Afro-American Studies in the aftermath of student action and protest, the Department of Africana Studies at Williams College will celebrate the institutionalization of Black Studies on campus while also recognizing the ways that, even in the rural hills of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Black Lives have always and continue to matter.

Through intentional, critical reflection on the intersections of the past, the present and the future, the Department of Africana Studies has developed a year-long series of events to commemorate AFR50, and many in collaboration with other campus partners including The Davis Center (who celebrates 30 years at Williams in 2018), Special Collections, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, Alumni Relations, and the W. Ford Schumann Faculty Fellow in Democratic Studies.

Many of these events will be open to the public. For more information, see,, or contact Greg Shook, Director of Media Relations.  

  • In the Fall of 2018, a slate of programming tied to Afro-Diasporic Environmentalism: Explorations Of Environmental Racism &  Justice considered the national and global intersections of Africana Studies and the study of Environmentalism, and hosted events that centered the expertise of Dr. Rachel Harding (Sterling Brown ‘22 Visiting Professor of Africana Studies), Dr. Beverly Wright, Dr. Robert Bullard, Dr. Walter Johnson, Dr. José Constantine (Assistant Professor of Geosciences) and Dr. James Manigault-Bryant (Associate Professor & Chair, Africana Studies).

    See the full slate of the fall 2018 programming here. 

  • In the Spring of 2019, programming will be more locally focused, with attention to the impact of Africana Studies at Williams, its influence on student activism, alumni presence, and the Williams College curriculum, and its transformative collaborations with The Davis Center, the Williams College Black Student Union, and The Du Bois Center in Great Barrington, among other partners. Numerous events will take place throughout the term, and will include a walking tour, a living museum, and audio-visual exhibits in Special Collections and WCMA, to name a few. The yearlong commemoration will culminate with a weekend celebration from April 4-7, 2019, which will feature our current students, alumni, staff, and faculty, as well as distinguished guests.

  • Be sure to visit our event schedule for the full list of events!