The broad mission of the Cleveland State University Black Studies Program is to provide the university community and the Greater Cleveland community with opportunities to acquire greater knowledge and a broader understanding and appreciation of the history, life, arts, culture, and experiences of African peoples and peoples of African descent on the African continent, in the United States of America, and throughout the African Diaspora. The time-span that encompasses this study of Africa, Africans, and peoples of African descent extends from the beginnings of ancient African civilization to the present.
The Black Studies Program seeks to provide information, dialogue, and experiences that contribute knowledge that serves to shape attitudes and behaviors necessary for living and working effectively and harmoniously in a multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural society.
The Black Studies Program is a member of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS). The director of Black Studies reports to the Dean of CLASS. The Black Studies staff consists of the director who oversees all operations, programs and activities of the Black Studies Program; the coordinator of the Dr. Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center, who is also the assistant to the director; the coordinator of administrative services; and a secretary. The Black Studies Program provides activities and services for the enrichment, education, and enjoyment of all Cleveland State University students, faculty, and staff as well as the Greater Cleveland community.
The Black Studies Program seeks to carry out its mission through the following six instruments:
- The Black Studies Academic Program
- The Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center
- The Howard Mims Lecture, Arts and Media Series
- The Jazz Heritage Orchestra
- IMAGES, a weekly Black Studies radio forum
- Black Aspirations Week
The Cleveland State University Black Studies Program offers a major and an interdisciplinary minor in Black Studies through approximately 87 Black Studies courses taught in 20 different departments that are housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the College of Education and Human Services, the College of Urban Affairs and the College of Sciences and Health Professions. These courses include the contributions of Africans and persons of African descent throughout the Diaspora to literature, arts, culture, religion, music, drama, science, technology, education, health, communication, and dance. The courses focus on information about African and African-American experiences in slavery, emancipation, segregation, desegregation, protests, and revolts, as well as the study of black institutions, organizations, businesses and the urban experience. These courses explore the politics, philosophy, psychology, and sociology of the Black experience.
The director of Black Studies, with the assistance of Black Studies professional staff members, is responsible for the administration of the minor in Black Studies. Administration responsibilities include advising students who elect a minor in Black Studies. This is done in conjunction with a member of the interdisciplinary Black Studies faculty. The director of Black Studies also serves as adviser to students pursuing a Personally Designed Major (PDM) in Black Studies. The director of Black Studies is responsible for communicating with the faculty who teach the Black Studies courses and with chairpersons of departments in which Black Studies courses are taught in order to encourage the establishment of additional courses and to facilitate the smooth functioning of the Black Studies Academic Program. For more information, contact the director of Black Studies at 216-523-7211.
The Black Studies Program operates the Dr. Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center located in Room 137 of Main Classroom. The center's programs include Umoja Round Tables, Kuumba Arts Presentations, Curtis Wilson Colloquium Series Lectures, the Black Studies Ambassadors, as well as Bridges to Africa Panels and Celebrations. These programs feature revolving exhibits, engagements with performing artists, formal colloquia, films and video recordings about African American, African and African Diaspora history, life and culture. The Dr. Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center is also designed to assist with student retention initiatives and provides an aesthetically enhanced atmosphere, where students are invited to relax, engage in formal or informal discussions, study and receive tutoring. This space is available for meetings by students, faculty/staff groups and organizations, as well as community organizations and groups aligned with the mission of the Black Studies Program. The Dr. Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center is open to students, staff, faculty and the general public Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The coordinator of the Dr. Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center should be contacted for scheduling events during regular hours or for use of the center on special occasions. For more information, contact the coordinator of the Dr. Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center/assistant to the director of Black Studies at 216-687-3656.
The director of the Black Studies Program and other members of the Black Studies staff are responsible for bringing to the university and the Greater Cleveland community outstanding speakers, the creative work of visual and performing artists, videos, and film. The directorin conjunction with the Black Studies staff, a student advisory council, a community advisory council, and members of the interdisciplinary Black Studies facultyis responsible for presenting this annual series, which is an extension of the Black Studies Academic Program. One purpose of the Lecture, Arts and Media Series is to preserve and perpetuate vital aspects of African, African American, and the African Diaspora cultural experiences, especially those artists and programs of high quality, which are often neglected. Cleveland State University students are especially encouraged to take advantage of these culturally enriching and highly educational activities and events which are designed to be an extremely vital part of their total college experience. Special efforts are also made to make these events of the Lecture, Arts and Media Series available to all segments of the general public. For more information, contact the secretary of the Black Studies Program at 216-687-3655.
In 1998, with a small band of supporters, the late Dr. Howard A. Mims, professor emeritus and former director of the Cleveland State Black Studies Program, founded the Jazz Heritage Orchestra (JHO). They envisioned the establishment of a world-class orchestra with a three-fold mission: primarily, to preserve and perpetuate the musical heritage of the great African American jazz masters, who were its primary creators and major innovators, through the education of young people and the general public by offering educational residencies, clinics, workshops and master classes; secondly, to present jazz to all strata of society through concert performances, festivals and conferences; and thirdly, for the Jazz Heritage Orchestra to create its own legacy by producing new music. These professional musicians are world-class jazz performers and highly competent music educators committed to taking jazz music and its history into the schools and other learning venues. The Jazz Heritage Orchestra is a 17-piece not-for-profit jazz orchestra officially in-residence in the Black Studies Program at Cleveland State University. JHO offers ensembles ranging from trio to a 12-piece band. Dennis Bradley Reynolds, former lead trumpeter with the Count Basie and Clark Terry Big Bands, is the artist director. For information, call 216-687-5461 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Images" is a weekly Black Studies Program radio forum. The office of the Black Studies Program is responsible for producing the program, which is hosted by the director of the Black Studies Program. The director serves as executive producer. Engineering services are provided by Cleveland State's Instructional Media Services in the IMS studio where the forums are recorded for future broadcast. "Images" is heard each week on two Cleveland area radio stations: WZAK-FM (93.1) Sunday, 6 a.m. and WCSB-FM (89.3) Wednesday at noon. In addition to discussions and conversations with local, national and international guests, "Images" is used to promote activities and events of the Black Studies Program as well as activities of other departments and units of the university. For more information, call 216-687-3655.
The goal of Black Aspirations Week is to highlight the accomplishments and achievements of African/African Americans throughout the Diaspora. Speakers, artists, and others are brought to the Cleveland State University campus to educate students and community residents regarding the diverse contributions made by African/African Americans. Most Black Aspirations events are free and open to the public.