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Department of Africana Studies records

Identifier: UA0104

Scope and Contents

The earliest materials in this collection pre-date the formation of both the Black Student Union (BSU) and the Black Studies program, which is today known as the Department of Africana Studies. Photographs and papers from students document protests in the Spring of 1969, which precipitated the formation of the Black Studies Committee, and later, the BSU and Black Studies program. The committee records contain meeting minutes, correspondence, reports, reference materials, and other materials which provide a comprehensive overview of the committee's activites. Curriculum planning, faculty recruitment, student enrollment, and short/long range planning are some of the topics covered. Records created after the formation of the department largely correspond to Dr. Bertha Maxwell's tenure as the first department chair. Many of the records were created by or reference her in some way.

The collection is divided into six series: Black Studies Program--Subject files; Committees--Black Studies--Subject files; Black Student Union--Subject files, Department Newsletters, Websites, and Events. Most records in the collection are contained within the Black Studies Program subject files, which fall primarily between the years 1969 and 1984. Aside from the program files, there are two subseries; the first contains audio and video recordings of events and classroom materials. The second subseries contains photographs and slides which document a number of faculty/student events, trips, student protests, and other campus activities. The Black Student Union series is comprised of a single folder with dates between 1969 and 1972. The Committee's series is scattered between the years 1969 and 1982, with most dates falling within the first five years of its creation, which was its most active period.

Committee and most subject files were maintained in the order that they were received. Photographs, slides, and negatives were separated and organized by size and event, when an event could be determined.


  • Creation: 1969 - 2020


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Digital materials can be viewed in the reading room. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives staff for access.


Copyright held by UNC Charlotte. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Administrative History

Founded in 1969, the Black Studies Department at UNC Charlotte stood at the center of a nationwide mobilization marked by community struggles and student movements, which compelled the academy to acknowledge the need for academic units devoted to the study of the African American experience, past and present. As elsewhere, the emergence of Black Studies at UNCC was tied directly to student activism for a greater voice in university affairs. African American students, led by Benjamin Chavis, pushed for the recognition of a Black Student Union early in 1969. Initially rebuffed by the Student Legislature, the students took their demands to university administrators, where the students were again met with reluctance. On March 3rd, 1969, Chavis led a commemoration of the students who were killed during protests outside of a segregated bowling alley in South Carolina a year earlier. A group convened around the flagpole at UNCC to raise a black liberation flag to half mast in honor of the slain South Carolina students. At this forum, linked but discrete agendas blended into one demonstration of protest as black students simultaneously grieved their slain peers, demanded the right to unity under an official organization, and pressed for the inclusion of Black Studies in the university curriculum. The action precipitated the formation of a Black Studies Committee, and by the fall semester, UNCC had both a Black Studies Department and a Black Student Union. The first chair of the department was Dr. Bertha Maxwell Roddey who, besides constructing and propelling a curriculum, searched for an accrediting body to review the new unit. Finding none, she began a process of national dialogue with other scholars in the field that resulted in the 1975 formation of the National Council for Black Studies, an organization that continues to guide and promote black studies. Dr. Mario Azevedo arrived at UNCC in 1986, eventually leading the department through its most recent transition to a Diasporic teaching framework, symbolized by the name change to Africana Studies in 2005.


5.75 Linear Feet (13 boxes (3 record cartons, 3 slim letter cases, 1 letter case, 1 legal document case, 2 cassette boxes, 1 postcard box, 1 small flat box, 1 8in flip top square box))

Language of Materials



Records of Africana Studies Department (formerly African American and African Studies; originally Black Studies), Black Studies Committee, and Black Student Union at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Collection contains files, photgraphs, audiovisuals, and ephemera that document the events leading up to the creation of the department and its subsequent evolution. Dr. Bertha Maxwell, the first department chair, Roberta Duff and Benjamin Chavis are prominent figures in the collection.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Jennifer Jordan, Archives Intern, Winter/Spring 2019.

Department of Africana Studies records
Jennifer Jordan
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte [All collections not yet online. For assistance, contact Special Collections:; 704-687-1170] Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

Special Collections and University Archives
J. Murrey Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
(704) 687-1170
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