In 1968, UCLA students championed a proposal to create a Center for Afro-American History and Culture on the largely white, Westwood campus. “From the very beginning of American history,” the proposal began, “Afro-Americans have formed an economically, socially, and culturally significant part of America. Despite the obvious importance of Afro-Americans,” the proposal continued, “neither the public at large nor scholars know very much about the precise role of Afro-Americans in American life, past and present. The long overdue recognition of this omission and the importance of correcting it has led to this proposal for the study of Afro-American history and culture.” Inspired by these words, the staff, students, faculty and community stakeholders who constitute the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies have worked together for 47 years to make a difference on the UCLA campus and beyond.
After 15 engaging years, I humbly step down as Director of the Bunche Center in June 2017 to make way for new leadership. From our renaming of the Center in 2003 after UCLA alumnus, race scholar and Nobel Prize winner Ralph J. Bunche, to our release of a groundbreaking anthology on Black Los Angeles in 2010, to our preparation of amicus briefs for pivotal U.S. Circuit and Supreme Court cases on affirmative action in 2011 and 2012, to our annual release since 2014 of the definitive report on Hollywood diversity (or the lack thereof), it has been my privilege to work with such a dedicated and talented team.
As we head into this year of transition, I would like to thank all of our friends who have generously supported our student scholarships and our most critical research and programmatic initiatives throughout my tenure as Director. I invite those of you who have engaged with the Bunche Center in the past to renew your ties; for those who are new to the Center, I invite you to initiate a firm connection. Subscribe to the Center’s website (see right-hand column). Visit the Center’s new “Black Forum” space in Haines 153. I have no doubt that many exciting programs and projects lie ahead for the Center as it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2019. I look forward to remaining a part of this dynamic community in the coming years, and to working with you and new leadership on accomplishments yet to be seen.
Darnell M. Hunt
Professor of Sociology and African American Studies