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CSUN’s Pan African Studies Department to Celebrate 40th Anniversary
By Sentinel News Service
Published October 22, 2009

CSUN’s Pan African Studies Department to Celebrate 40th Anniversary

Cal State Northridge’s Pan African Studies Department (PAS) will mark its 40th anniversary and commemorate its founding faculty with a daylong celebration next month at the university.

The festivities, which are expected to include entertainment, poetry readings and refreshments, are scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, in the Grand Salon of the University Student Union, located on the east side of the campus off Zelzah Avenue.


The free event-sponsored by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the PAS Department, Graduate Studies and the New World African Press-will include tributes to founding faculty members Adewole Umoja (formerly known as Archie Chapman), Bill Burwell, Arthur Jones and the late Jerome Walker. Tributes will be made to emeritus faculty including Vern Bryant, James Dennis, the late David Fulton, Rosentene Purnell, Barbara Rhodes and the late Tiyo Soga.

“This event will recognize the struggle, determination and commitment of those who sacrificed to create this department,” said Tom Spencer-Walters, chair of the Pan African Studies Department. “These founding faculty and members of the Black Student Union made a way for the founding of black studies programs and Chicano studies programs throughout the country.”

The PAS Department was officially formed in 1969 as the Afro-American Studies Department. It was organized in the wake of campus protests and the mass arrest of hundreds of students who were angry about the treatment of students of color.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Joseph Holloway, who was a student on the campus when two dozen Black Student Union members occupied the administration building of what was then San Fernando Valley State College.

“The students demanded equal treatment and classes relevant to their history,” added Holloway, who returned in 1984 to teach in the department. He said CSUN’s PAS laid the groundwork for the formation of other ethnic and gender studies programs.

Today, the Pan African Studies Department is one of the oldest and largest degree granting black studies programs in the nation. The department has produced thousands of graduates who are working in a variety of disciplines, including education, social work, law, and the media.


For more information about the event, contact the Pan African Studies Department at (818) 677-3311.

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