Students discuss Pan-African Studies Department at Kent State

Kathleen Shevlin

The Department of Pan-African Studies has been a part of Kent State University for more than 40 years, and it continues to grow.

Alexandria Peebles, senior psychology major, said Pan-African Studies came about through the works of Black United Students and is still referred to as “the house that BUS built.”

According to the Kent State’s website, the department of Pan-African Studies credits the success of the department, faculty and students to its first chair, Dr. Edward Crosby.

Although the Department of Pan-African Studies primarily focuses on providing a global understanding of African culture, Peebles, who is the director of committees for Advocates of Culture and Knowledge, said the department encourages students to be inclusive.

The Department of Pan-African Studies is located in Oscar Ritchie Hall, which is named after Dr. Oscar W. Ritchie, Kent State’s first black faculty member. The department is home to the Center of Pan-African Culture, the Institute for African American Affairs, the African Community Theatre and the Communication Skills and Arts academic division.

“The classes are really interesting, and you have classes with all types of people,” Peebles said.

Porsha Hunt, senior hospitality management major, said she feels that as a black woman, she is always interested in knowing about her culture and its history.

“These courses elaborate on things we have already been taught, but more importantly tell the stories that we were never taught about,” Hunt said. “The cultural knowledge is something extremely positive that department has given Kent State. America is a melting pot, but most classes only teach one viewpoint of history. This allows for insight into a different culture and its history.”

Hunt said Pan-African Studies courses are not only beneficiary if you’re black. However, she learned through personal experience some students aren’t aware that these courses are available to them.

“The first Pan-African studies course that I took was Black Experience. During lecture one day, a Caucasian girl made a comment about how she originally didn’t know if she would be able to take the course because she was white,” Hunt said. “She also said she didn’t want to be judged by fellow people. Everyone embraced her and thought that it was a good thing that she wanted to open her mind and experience another culture.”

Contact Kathleen Shevlin at [email protected].