African American studies program back at Detroit Mercy

Making its return to the Detroit Mercy curriculum this year is the African American Studies program, with new faculty on board and ready to enrich students through the minor.

The 18-credit program was designed to give those enrolled a more profound understanding of African American culture, heritage and historical experiences, as well as compliment any major. 

“One thing about African American studies is that it touches on whatever your academic interests are; it doesn’t really matter what you’re majoring in,” said Dr. Justin Williams, the program’s director. “African American courses are going to have some relevance to the course material, and you can also bring your interests into the courses.”

A leading force in navigating the program is providing students with the opportunity to deepen their appreciation for diversity and the cultural perspectives that they will gain through each of the courses. 

In addition to his hopes for the program and what prospective students will gain from it in the upcoming academic years,Williams plans on organizing groups to explore Detroit’s cultural beauty.

“It would be a great way to get to know Detroit Proper because the city is such a huge force in African American history,” he said. 

Visiting the Wright Museum, going to Detroit Sip Coffee Shop, and exploring different soul food restaurants are among the list of ideas the new director has for expanding the experience beyond its curriculum. 

With the African American Studies Program in development, “the school has been hiring more faculty and we can expand our course offerings,” Williams told The Varsity News. “Students will start to see newly added classes that will count towards the minor in the next year or so.” 

Williams brings an extensive research background to Detroit Mercy. That research focuses on the politics of modern Africa and its diasporas. He has published work in African Studies and Journal of Pan African Studies. He also authored the book Pan-Africanism in Ghana: African Socialism, Neoliberalism, and Globalization.