Why African American Studies?

African American studies in the past and today imparts knowledge that contributes to positive social change.

Our curriculum helps students learn how to define, measure, interpret and validate Black experiences. Graduates leave us ready to think and to act in order to solve the unstructured problems that confront Black communities.

Learn more about the value of a degree in African American studies.


Shawn Williams has been involved in a variety of service-oriented efforts. "I want to build a better world," they said. (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)

Nov. 21, 2022

Class of 2022: Helping others is a passion for graduating senior Shawn Williams

Williams’ work focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion, and they have been involved in campus leadership and service.

Grace Gipson, PhD sits in her office reading a book.

Nov. 17, 2022

New curated Instagram account focuses on depictions of Black girls and women in the media

A team led by African American Studies Professor Grace D. Gipson, PhD has launched Black Girl Magic in Media (@blackgirlmagicinmedia), an Instagram account described as a "curated site that shows the vast, creative representations of Black girls and women in media."

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," in theaters this week, centers the stories of Black women as leaders, something pop culture scholar Grace D. Gipson, Ph.D., says has the power to make a difference in how Black girls and women see themselves - and how others see them. “Representation is essential and important because what we see in pop culture influences and offers us a viewpoint into how we make decisions, how we view things, the way in which things are portrayed and people are portrayed,” says Gipson, an assistant professor of African American Studies at VCU's College of Humanities and Sciences. (Courtesy Walt Disney Studios)

Nov. 10, 2022

The smartest person in the Marvel universe, how ‘Black Panther’ – and its sequel – changed Hollywood and why representation in pop culture matters

“‘Black Panther’ has changed the game of saying what can and does sell. It wasn’t just Black people who went to go see ‘Black Panther;’ everybody — the world — went to see it,” says Grace D. Gipson, Ph.D.

AFAM Spotlight