History

Black Action Society: A Legacy of Spirit, Pride, Purpose, and Progress

DEPARTMENT HISTORY  

1967: The year that seeded social change on university campuses in Pittsburgh. Stokley Carmichael came to the University of Pittsburgh for the first time and spoke on the meaning of “Black Power”. Carmichael’s lecture spawned new meanings and concepts for the formation of the Afro-American Cultural Society consisting of students and community persons from the surrounding areas. Although he organization lasted for only a year, students from the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, intrepid in spirit, established the Black Action Society. 

1968: The Black Action Society was founded on May 19th, the birthday of Malcolm X. B.A.S.’s first student demands were presented to the Chancellor. Their request for an office, equipment and supplies was granted, but the major items of concern were ignored.  

1969: After patiently awaiting (6-8 months) on “core demands”, no response was received form the Chancellor. January 15th COMPUTER CENTER TAKE-OVER by black students and community persons on Pitt’s campus. In February, Alex Haley (great grandson of Kunta Kinti) lectures on campus. The Black Studies Office was established March, 1969 with Jack L. Daniel as Acting Director and Curtiss E. Porter, Acting Associate Director. The first courses were offered in Fall 1969. 

1970: The Black Studies Program became a DEPARTMENT and was formally titled “DEPARTMENT OF BLACK COMMUNITY, EDUCATION, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT. First, faculty hired in the Department were (full-time): Sanza Clark, Larry Coleman, Ethridge Knight, Rob Penny, Sonia Sanchez, and Clarence Turner; (Part-Time): Robert Aarons, Reg Dockens, Kayode Famolini, David Owens, Jake and Margaret Milliones.  

1971-72: Department experiences enormous growth and development during these years with many programs and projects. 

1974: Kuntu Repertory Theathre founded by Vernell A. Lillie  

1976: Rob Penny and August Wilson co-found Kuntu Writer’s Workshop  

1994: The department’s name changes to The Department of Africana Studies