Message from the Director

Stephen Middleton

African American Studies is an interdisciplinary community of scholars who pursue research, teaching, and service on various aspects of the black experience. While our program is located in the College of Arts and Sciences here at Mississippi State University (where most of our faculty teach), we welcome scholars and students from every discipline, including engineering and business.

Our faculty is committed to an interdisciplinary curriculum that supports the general education of students from all majors. And there are many reasons for students from all backgrounds to study the black experience. Recently, I delivered a paper and facilitated a talking circle on the politics of diversity at the International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). It became clear to me that multinational corporations, institutions of higher learning, and governments from around the world understand the value of diversity and are taking steps to ensure that their organizations are representative of their communities. People who make hiring decisions are interested in candidates who can work with employees from various backgrounds. Exposure to African American Studies is one way for students at Mississippi State to broaden their horizons on the subject of race, ethnicity, and religion.

You will discover that our faculty are active scholars. Visit our campus bookstore and the library to check-out our publications. And you will learn that there are many opportunities for students to join us in discovering and disseminating new knowledge. The African American Studies Program has launched a multi-year research project to recover the biographies of thousands of black people who ran away to escape the burden of slavery. The law designated them "fugitives," but it is appropriate to think of them as refugees from the slave-holding South-freedom-seekers-who went to the free states in the North, and often further to Canada. Our researchers are also investigating black entrepreneurship in Mississippi and throughout the rest of America, with the goal being the creation of a visual display to illustrate the contributions of African Americans in business and industry. Our core courses are carefully designed to teach students about critical thinking, research methodologies, and effective writing and speaking. Our classes are small enough for our faculty to give students considerable individual attention. Our students will also discover that our classes are stimulating as well as challenging.

I am excited about African American Studies and its promise to contribute to the education of our students at Mississippi State, and to foster greater service on our campus and in the community in which we live.

Finally, I have an open door policy; I will welcome students, colleagues, and visitors anytime they come by my office in 289 Bowen Hall.

Stephen Middleton
Professor and Director of African American Studies