About the Department

African American Studies at Princeton turns fifty years old this academic year. This academic unit has grown from a program to a Center, to a department. Today the department holds many of the most prolific and notable African American Studies scholars in the world.

The Department of African American Studies at Princeton University provides an exciting and innovative model for teaching and research about African-descended people, with a central focus on their experiences in the United States. We embody this mission in a curriculum that reflects the complex interplay between the political, economic, and cultural forces that shape our understanding of the historic achievements and struggles of African-descended people in this country and around the world. 

Explore the Department


Press & Media

‘Our pioneers’: First cohort of seniors graduates from Princeton’s Department of African American Studies

One is off to law school. Another has joined the staff of Princeton’s Office of Religious Life. Another will be teaching art to secondary school students in New York City. These students and seven of their peers started at Princeton thinking they were going to major in one thing — math or molecular biology, for example — and all changed to African American studies.

Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Textual Studies Wallace D. Best, Princeton University

The American Academy of Religion (AAR) has selected the 2018 recipients of the Awards for Excellence in the Study of Religion and the Best First Book in the History of Religions. This annual competition recognizes new scholarly publications that make significant contributions to the study of religion. The awards honor books of distinctive originality, intelligence, creativity, and importance—books that affect decisively how religion is examined, understood, and interpreted.

Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Textual Studies
Wallace D. Best, Princeton University
Langston’s Salvation: American Religion and the Bard of Harlem
NYU Press, 2017

Informed by ethnography and cultural theory, Langston’s Salvation is elegantly written and may well inspire a vigorous reclamation of Hughes as a canonical religious author.

Princeton University African American History Walking Tour

As part of the Campus Iconography Committee (CIC), the Princeton History Working Group (PHWG) works to create visual cues on campus that tell nuanced interpretations of Princeton University’s history. PHWG’s work brings to light some of the University’s lesser-known histories in order to build a more complete narrative of Princeton’s past. Reintroducing complexity and nuance regarding race, gender and other identities into the narrative history of Princeton can help Princeton become a more inclusive place for members of the University community. PHWG is an interdepartmental advisory group composed of students, staff and faculty, and collaborates with a number of University centers, departments and offices, as well as community organizations and partners. PHWG initiatives include both temporary and permanent projects. They take a variety of forms, including exhibits, historical markers, walking tours and orientation programming.


  • RT : Join us in the Reid Auditorium tonight from 6:30pm for a guest lecture from Professor Anna Arabindan-Kesson, introd… https://t.co/bwEPsQ1cZs

News & Analysis

Stories recommended by African American Studies faculty

Latest in the AAS 21 Repertoire


How race measures up in the United States today, in black and white

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
May 2016
African American Unemployment Rate is at or Below its Pre-Recession Level
Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas
Hispanic Unemployment Rate is at or Below its Pre-Recession Level
California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New York, and North Carolina
White Unemployment Rate is at or Below its Pre-Recession Level
in 24 states
Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts
African American Household Earning Between $25,000 and $50,000
Emergency savings of $400
Hispanic Household Earning Between $25,000 and $50,000
Emergency savings of $700
White Household Earning Between $25,000 and $50,000
Emergency savings of $2100
Source: United States Census Bureau
States with Greatest African American Poverty Rate
Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, and Wisconsin
States with Greatest Hispanic Poverty Rate
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Rhode Island
States with Greatest White Poverty Rate
Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia

Who We Are