Celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, the African American Institute was founded as a hub for black students to meet, study, and socialize. Created during an exhilarating era when African American students began to assert themselves nationwide, the institute was established to develop a long-range plan for a genuine, effective, and permanent black presence at Northeastern University. The center was renamed the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute in 1993 after Northeastern’s first African American vice president, who headed up Student Affairs from 1979 to 1992, and was a champion of educational opportunity and excellence at Northeastern.
The African American Studies department, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, has grown steadily since its creation in 1973 with just one professor. Today, the thriving interdisciplinary department includes 11 faculty members in music, history, literature, sociology, political science, and public health. Its focus is on the African
Diaspora through the experience of black people in Africa, the United States, and the Caribbean from the earliest days of colonialism to the cultural issues of today.