National Council for Black Studies (NCBS) is an organization dedicated to the advancement of the field of Africana/African American/Black Studies. It is a not-for-profit organization established in 1975. The National Council for Black Studies was founded and first housed at the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) by the UNC Charlotte Black Student Union. The following are the presidents of the Council over its history:
2002-2006 Shirley Weber, San Diego State University
A Brief History of the NCBS
Within the context of the Civil Rights Movement, a growing recognition of the need for the study of African-American world experience spurred student movements on several campuses for a more inclusive educational experience. The Black Studies movement (1968-1969) and the Black University concept (late 1960s) helped create more African & African diaspora-centered courses on various campuses. In April 1968, a national conference for Black teachers took place.
Dr. Bertha Maxwell Roddey spearheaded NCBS in 1975 as part of this larger movement for African American studies. However, before its inception, Dr. Maxwell Roddey’s pioneering work at UNC Charlotte included a Black Studies program that served as the inspiration and backdrop for the NCBS’s structure, philosophy, and aims, in addition to the meetings and conferences that Dr. Maxwell Roddey organized.
Dr. Maxwell Roddey’s Pioneering Efforts at UNC Charlotte
Dr. Maxwell Roddey realized the need for Black Studies education at UNC Charlotte, and although not originally a program that conferred an undergraduate or graduate degree, the Black Studies program at UNC Charlotte was integral to the creation of NCBS. Dr. Maxwell Roddey was the first black teacher at UNC Charlotte and also a co-founder of the Afro-American Cultural Center in North Carolina, now the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She was also the president of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority from 1992-1996.
The Black Studies program at UNC Charlotte was conceptualized to address the “academic, intellectual, social, and economic life of the Black student.” This was realized through a series of phases, which were levels of academic courses through which students would complete; they are as follows:
- Phase I: Who Am I?
- Phase II: Why Am I Here?
- Phase III: Where Did I Come From?
- Phase IV: Where Do I Go From Here?
Each phase included community service projects and the higher levels or phases also included research projects while the lower levels or phases were intro-level or survey classes concerning African American history and other disciplines. The Black Studies committee envisioned the program to both benefit the community and work in tandem with the entire university through an interdisciplinary approach.
Several organizations were affiliated with the Black Studies program including: the Black Student Union, Black Gospel Choir, Basketball, Student Government, and various Black and historical Black sororities and fraternities.
Early History of NCBS
The initial philosophy of the Council was that “Education should engender both academic excellence and social responsibility.” The NCBS desired to expand and strengthen academic units and community programs concerned with African American studies. It originally operated as an organization for Black Studies professionals with the aim of developing the field as a respected academic discipline.
Mission & Philosophy
Members of NCBS are committed to the development of the discipline of Africana Studies. Their work has promoted and retained K-12, community college, and university curricula inclusive to the experience and contributions of African diaspora peoples and other marginalized peoples. NCBS actively:
- Facilitates, through consultation and other services, the recruitment of scholars of African descent for all levels of teaching and research in universities and colleges;
- Assists in the creation and implementation of multicultural education programs and materials for K-12 schools and higher education institutions;
- Promotes scholarly African-centered research on all aspects of the African World experience;
- Increases and improves informational resources on Pan-African life and culture to be made available to the general public;
- Provides professional advice to policymakers in education, government and community development;
- Maintains international linkages among Africana Studies scholars; and
- Works for the empowerment of African People.
The California Bill ACR-71 Africana studies programs, led to success with the efforts of former NCBS member and president Dr. Shirley Weber, is a testament to the continuing need for the African studies academic disciplines’ support by state legislatures.
Current NCBS board member and department chair of the Africana Studies program at California State University at Long Beach, Dr. Maulana Karenga is the founder of the Pan-African holiday Kwanzaa.
NCBS also has a community grant available for members to apply for. The funding has helped new leaders and scholars bring Africana Studies to various communities.
NCBS is currently housed at The University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio, with its previous base in Atlanta, Georgia. It holds an annual conference in various cities across the country that features important plenary sessions, hundreds of paper presentations, a Student Luncheon and Du Bois Awards ceremony. The current President, Amilcar Shabazz is completing a book, The World of Africana Studies, that explores the growth of the discipline globally through organizations and initiatives like The Japan Black Studies Association, The International Symposium on Ethnic Literature in China, the Collegium for African American Research in Europe, and various projects in Latin America and on the African continent.
- “NCBS Online – About NCBS”. ncbsonline.org. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- “Terms & Questions | 1968: A Global Year of Student Driven Change”. www.blackstudies.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- Asante, Molefi Kete; Mazama, Ama (2005). Encyclopedia of Black Studies. SAGE. ISBN 9780761927624.
- “Bertha Maxwell-Roddey, PhD – SC African American”. SC African American. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- “Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. – About Delta Sigma Theta”. 2007-10-28. Archived from the original on 2007-10-28. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- Black Studies at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Black Studies Brochure (Charlotte, North Carolina: UNC Charlotte, 1975-1976). Currently housed in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
- “NCBS Online – About NCBS”. www.ncbsonline.org. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- “Bill Text – ACR-71 Africana studies programs”. leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- “The Official Kwanzaa Web Site – Kwanzaa African American Celebration of Family, Community and Culture by Maulana Karenga”. www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- “NCBS Online – NCBS Civic & Community Education & Engagement Grants Program”. www.ncbsonline.org. Retrieved 2017-08-05.