About the Program


The 21-credit African American Studies program (AASP) was initiated in 1969, but the program’s start was contentious. It began as a direct response to the resolutions submitted by a group of 90 African American students and those faculty, staff and students who supported them. Responding to the current state of affairs ignored by the university’s administration, the students assembled and walked to the university head’s office in Dempsey.

Known later as “Black Thursday,” UW Oshkosh students initiated a march that became famous across the United States. The students expressed their frustration with being left out socially and culturally in campus affairs and the need for diversity in course materials across disciplines.

Their list of demands included:

  • establishing a list of required courses that became the basis for the African American Studies minor;
  • reserving a place where students of color could hold group meetings and other cultural gatherings—the Multicultural Education Center on Algoma Boulevard was established as the result;
  • inviting to campus more guest scholars, authors and artists who specialize in African American issues and cultural forms;
  • locating courses across a wide variety of disciplines that incorporate scholarship about Africans and African Americans.

It was hard to argue with the logic of those demands, especially in 1969, when the country was starting to fully address multicultural and multiracial issues in many aspects of daily life. At UW Oshkosh, despite the fact that there were faculty interested in establishing an AASP, for decades no permanent director was hired specifically for making the African American Studies minor program a viable and active entity on campus.  However, in 2005, after a nation-wide search, Dr. Norlisha Crawford was hired to direct the program.

After Dr. Crawford  left the university in 2015, the program was left without a permanent director until the Fall of 2019.  Dr. Alphonso Simpson, Jr. is 2nd Director of UWO’s African American Studies Program.

AASP Grows and Expands

AAS minor Courtney Butts with Dr. Norlisha Crawford

UWO’s first AAS minor Courtney Butts with Dr. Norlisha Crawford,2007

Today, under the leadership of Dr. Alphonso Simpson, Jr., the AAS minor has grown to house over 70 minors! WhenDr. Simpson joined the UWO family in September of 2019, the AASP supported 13 minors.  In May of 2020 the AASP had almost doubled in size as it had grown to 22 minors.  After graduating 7 minors in the Spring of 2023, the AASP housed 63 minors. As interest in the discipline of African American Studies grows here at UWO, the program continues to follow an upward trend.  By the Fall of 2023 the AASP had grown to 74 minors!

The AASP continues to play a critical role in helping UWO achieve its core values of student success, an inclusive environment, and sustainability. Moreover, the program continues to seek to diversify its curriculum as well as its student population.

African American Studies Program

Sage Hall, Room 3465 and 3466
(920) 424-0939
AASP Brochure

More contact information

Have a question? Ask away.