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African & African American Studies

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Our Mission


The mission of the University of Oklahoma's African and African American Studies Program (AFAM) is first to exemplify excellence in research, teaching and services, in accordance with the mission of the University of Oklahoma (OU) and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). Specifically, AFAM has the mission to provide students with a broad, interdisciplinary education inclusive of a focus on Africa and the traditional areas of study of the African American Studies / Black Studies discipline. 

Where to Find AFAM

The Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies has been relocated to Cate 2 (across from Dale Hall on Lindsey).  We are on the 3rd floor in offices 308 thru 317. Please come visit us in our new location.

Clara Luper

Photo of Clara Luper

Clara Mae Shepard Luper was born in 1923 in rural Okfuskee County, Oklahoma. Her father, Ezell Shepard, was a World War I veteran and laborer, and her mother, Isabell Shepard, worked as a laundress. As a child, she was raised in Hoffman, Oklahoma.  She went to high school in the all-black town of Grayson, Oklahoma. In 1944, she received a B.A. in mathematics with a minor in history from Langston  University. In 1950, Luper was one of a group of black students who integrated the University of Oklahoma, where she received an M.A. in  History Education in 1951.

In 1957, as Clara Luper worked as a history teacher at Dunjee High School (east of Oklahoma City), she also became the advisor for the Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council. At this time, she was deeply influenced by the  success of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Known as the “Mother of the Oklahoma Civil Rights Movement,” from  1958 to 1964, Luper mentored members of the NAACP Youth Council during its campaign to end the  segregation of public accommodations in Oklahoma City through sit-ins, protests and boycotts. While instrumental in leading the fight to end  segregation in Oklahoma, Luper also led campaigns in Oklahoma City to gain equal banking rights, employment opportunities, open housing and voting rights. 



Welcome to the African and African American Studies Department!

AFAM courses are exciting, challenging and offer students (from all racial and ethnic backgrounds) the opportunity to hear and discuss important content, essential to Africa and the African American experience, in a constructive learning environment. Students are exposed to different theoretical approaches, typically taught in Black Studies. All students should emerge from the program with a clearer understanding of African-centered thought, as well as alternative paradigms articulated within the discipline.

In the 1960s, at the inception of the Black Studies discipline, Black Studies serviced both the campus and the community. Here at OU, we aim to facilitate dialogue between those on campus and in the community via education and civic engagement.

African & African American courses are stimulating, thought provoking, and interdisciplinary. Courses in this program offer students from all racial and ethnic backgrounds the opportunity to hear and discuss important content, essential to Africa and the African American experience in a constructive learning environment.

Career Opportunities

Majoring in African and African American Studies challenges students with a high level of critical thinking encouraging the growth of knowledge beyond the bounds of the traditional college program. Learning about and tackling important societal issues such as poverty and healthcare provides an understanding that will allow a graduate to stand out to potential employers.

Graduates of the program have entered graduate schools or the work force in the following areas:

  • Community Service
  • Education
  • History
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Social services
  • The arts
  • And many more...

All students should emerge from the program with a clearer understanding of African-centered thought, as well as alternative paradigms articulated within the discipline.





Congratulations to the 2020 Seniors

Miles Francisco is a graduating senior from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  He is graduated with Bachelor’s of Arts degrees, in African and African-American Studies and Political Science as well as minors in International Studies and Women and Gender Studies. While attending the University of Oklahoma, Miles received the Carl Albert Award from the College of Arts and Sciences, and was named Outstanding Senior for the University.  He was active in several student organizations across campus.  He served as Co-Director  for the Black Emergency Response Team and participated in the Gender + Equality Center, and OU’s NAACP chapter. Moving forward Miles plans to embark on a year long fellowship before continuing his education in graduate school pursuing a Ph.D.

The Clara Luper Department of African & African American Studies has played a crucial part in helping me grow into the person I am today.  AFAM  is an incredibly strong program.  The rigorous courses awakened my consciousness and helped me navigate the many hardships I experienced while attending the University of Oklahoma. I am so appreciative of  AFAM for always being supportive and playing a key role in providing a home, a welcoming space for students on campus. The people in AFAM have meant so very much to me.  Without them I would not be where I am today. Thank you for being a testament to the life and work of Clara Luper!

Tyler Rivera graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA. He has earned a bachelor’s degree with majors in African and African-American Studies, Political Science and Spanish. He is a member of Sigma Lambda Beta and served on Voto Latino for the past three semesters. Tyler received several scholarships and awards from the Clara Luper Department of African and African-American Studies, including the Raymond Gary Memorial Scholarship, the Wayne Thompson Memorial Scholarship and the Student of the Year award. While attending OU, Tyler worked with the Student Government Association for two semesters in the Human Diversity Committee. He also served on the “It’s On Us” Taskforce. Tyler plans to use his AFAM degree while attending law school at UCLA in their Critical Race Studies Program.

“The AFAM Department brought me to where I am today by opening my mind’s capabilities in ways that have fully-prepared me for the future. AFAM taught me not only how to view my own life and my own people, but how to really work to reach solutions, empower others, and foster as much knowledge as possible. AFAM is driven by noble intentions that I hope to reflect in my own life and career as I go onto law school. I know that path is possible for me only because of the impact and rigor of the AFAM curriculum. I am forever grateful for having been a part of this program!”