*The “African and African American Studies” program at Louisiana State University is getting an upgrade.
The LSU Board of Directors recently approved a request for the program to become its own department, a move that comes about two decades after the idea was first recommended, and still subject to review by the state Board of Regents. It would make LSU the first public college or university in the state to create such a department.
Black students at LSU began pushing for African American history and culture courses in the 1970s. A program was established in 1994. A few years later, a consultant recommended that the program be upgraded to a department.
Stephen Finley, director of the program, said Tuesday he thinks a “confluence of events,” including the reaction of students to the death of George Floyd and others last year, helped pave the way for approval of department status.
Other changes on the LSU campus in the wake of Floyd’s death include the removal of former university president Troy Middleton’s name from the main library last year because of questions about his racial views. The university is also reviewing street and building names with ties to the Confederacy.