Welcome to Morrison Hall

Written by
Collin Riggins, Department of African American Studies
Sept. 15, 2021

As students and faculty enter another semester of learning, AAS looks forward to continuing the rich legacy of African American Studies at Princeton in Morrison Hall—the Department's new home.

There is an all-encompassing feeling of newness around campus. Both fresh and familiar faces line the sidewalks as the Princeton community is welcomed back to in-person instruction. Classrooms teem with students eager to learn for the first time since the Spring of 2020. Melodious songs ring from under Blair Arch as student organizations have returned to modified programming. However, what may be most exciting for the Department of African American Studies this year is that we have found a new home.

Lobby View
Main lobby / Photo by Collin Riggins

Formerly based out of Stanhope Hall, the Department of African American Studies has transitioned its headquarters to Morrison Hall—a space named in honor of the late Toni Morrison. The name Morrison Hall alone bears great significance to the AAS Department. As an acclaimed writer, Morrison was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. As a Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, she helped promote the arts and African American Studies by spearheading initiatives like the Princeton Atelier. Therefore, to be housed under a roof named after a Black woman whose legacy has, and continues to, influence Black life at Princeton is a monumental step forward for the Department of African American Studies.

Though beyond the symbolism of Morrison Hall, the space is more functional as well. Department Chair Eddie Glaude Jr. notes in his welcome letter to the Princeton community, “For the first time in the history of our department the majority of our faculty will be in one space.” This increased size brings greater potential for collaboration across faculty, students, and disciplines. In addition, Morrison Hall has been carefully fashioned to be an innovative hub for all things African American Studies.

Seminar Room View
Seminar room / Photo by Collin Riggins

On the basement level, media production is constantly taking place and groundbreaking research is conducted in the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab. One floor up, AAS professors can be seen hard at work as they prepare lectures in their offices. Meanwhile, students and faculty gather in seminar rooms  as they delve into conversations about African American Studies courses. And amidst this all, one is sure to find students mingling in the sleek, modern lounge spaces located around the building.

However, despite being exceedingly eager to push the envelope for the future of AAS at Princeton, we are also excited to celebrate our rich history. Upon entering our space, visitors are met by an ever-growing collection of books that trace the tradition of African American Studies. In addition, the walls have been adorned by Black art and an archive of posters; the posters, taken from Stanhope Hall, beautifully capture the African diaspora. These furnishings make Morrison Hall a place that is both comforting and inspirational. 

It goes without saying that we are so excited to begin welcoming students into our new home at Morrison Hall. There are so many fruitful conversations to be had, growth to foster, and knowledge to sow. Whether it is for a class or simply to see what African American Studies is about, we hope that you will stop by and partake in this momentous step forward with us!

AAS building

Photo by Collin Riggins