When I became Acting Director of the Center for Black Studies in October of 1996, I faced many challenges. As our image on campus had slowly deteriorated over the years, it was apparent that an important aspect of my work was to reestablish a strong presence for the Center. I am proud of the progress that we have made during this short period of time. The effort and commitment we expended over the last few years have left no doubt that the Center for Black Studies is a viable and valuable unit on campus, in our local community and in the national and international academic communities.
Dr. Jacqueline Bobo, Associate Professor and Chair of the Women's Studies Program, accepted the position of Associate Director for the Center for Black Studies, effective October 1, 1998. We believe that her presence and contributions greatly enhance the Center's research mission. Dr. Shirley Kennedy, a Lecturer in the Black Studies Department and a long-time community activist, now serves as our Cultural and Community Affairs Coordinator. Both Dr. Bobo and Dr. Kennedy are committed to the research and public missions of the Center for Black Studies and are fully engaged in all aspects of our agenda and our projects. Deanna Hatch joined the Center in the 1999 Fall Quarter as our Business Officer. Her high levels of professionalism and expertise are fine assets for the Center.
Now that we have reestablished our presence at UCSB, we are ready to embark on an aggressive pursuit of external research funds. The preliminary inquiries that we have made are promising and it appears that many of our projects are fundable. Thus the pursuit of outside funding will be a major part of our agenda in the next fiscal year.
By its very nature, the Center for Black Studies encourages interdisciplinary academic inquiry. The faculty members who interact with the Center come from a variety of academic departments including Education, English, History, Religious Studies, Sociology, the Film Studies Program and the Women's Studies Program. We also collaborate with the Multicultural Center, the Women's Center and Arts & Lectures in pursuing cross-discipline interaction.
We have begun to take a leadership role in working more closely with other Ethnic Studies departments and programs at UCSB and in the UC. As such, the Center for Black Studies was the major facilitator of a Systemwide Ethnic Studies Conference in December of 1999. We are proud to be the organizers of the first conference to take place at a University of California campus that encouraged an inter-ethnic dialogue among scholars from throughout the UC system. It attracted prestigious Ethnic Studies scholars from a variety of disciplines. The comments from the faculty, students and community members who attended were extremely positive. I believe that this conference was a turning point that sparked the beginning of an Ethnic and Cultural Studies based research dialogue across disciplines and campuses within the UC system and in the larger academy.
The Center's Associate Director, Dr. Jacqueline Bobo, and I were awarded the College of Letters & Science "Critical Issues in America" $25,000 grant for the 1999-00 academic year. Our project, titled "Ethnic Studies Dialogue: A Critical Issue for Twenty-first Century America", was administered through the Center for Black Studies and featured speakers, seminars, films and performances. It included a Black Women Filmmakers Series which showcased the talents of major filmmakers such as Julie Dash, Dianne Houston (the only Black woman nominated for an Academy Award in the Director category), and Camille Billops, among others. We hosted Haitian author Edwidge Danticat, who is a National Book Award Finalist and the winner of the 1999 American Book Award. These and other distinguished scholars attracted community members to campus and increased the national prominence of the Center as well as UCSB.
Several other ambitious projects are in process: We received a $25,000 Faculty Outreach Grant for "The Henrietta Marie Project" which is coordinated with another project titled "Teaching of Black History in K-12". Other projects include "New Vision and New Challenges for Black Women Filmmakers"; a major Ethnic Studies collaboration, "Individual Voices and Collective Vision" and an outreach project titled "Closing the Cultural and Virtual Divide".