Director's Statement

     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.

Mission Statement

     Our mission is to organize, promote and administer interdisciplinary research among faculty and students on the social, political, historical, cultural, and economic experiences of people of African descent. The Center is also committed to facilitating rapport between people of African descent and other people of color as well as with the US population in general. We disseminate our research products and the ideas generated therein through a variety of mechanisms including, but not limited to working papers, edited volumes, special editions of journals, conferences and colloquia. We provide training in interdisciplinary scholarship for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates and house, support, and mentor dissertation fellows.    One goal of the Center's research agenda is active engagement in shaping and implementing public policy. Therefore, the academic mission is complemented by a public mission. The Center's research agenda uniquely positions us to provide a critical synthesis of issues of race, social equality and justice. Furthermore, the broader public mission embraces a commitment to community collaboration. This collaboration can take on many forms, including: enhancing communication between the university and the community on issues of mutual concern; facilitating access for the community to university resources; participating in the development and implementation of community based educational and social initiatives, and providing co-sponsorship for cultural activities on campus and in the community.

Overview of 1999-2000

    June 2000 marked the end of my fourth year as Acting Director in the Center for Black Studies, and effective July 1, 2000, I was appointed Director. The Center remains affiliated with the Office of Research (OR), though it is not an ORU (Organized Research Unit). We have continued spending time re-thinking new directions for the unit and working with the Advisory Board members in developing a new agenda for the Center in accordance with its re-defined academic and public missions. A number of research and community oriented projects continue to be developed at the Center for Black Studies.

    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".