A MESSAGE FROM KELLY LYTLE HERNANDEZ,
INTERIM DIRECTOR OF THE RALPH J. BUNCHE CENTER
FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES
Since 1969, the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies has advanced research on the history, lifestyles, and socio-cultural systems of people of African descent. Scholarship seeded by the Bunche Center has also investigated problems of distinct bearing on the psychological, social, and economic well-being of persons of African descent. And Bunche Center-affiliated faculty have consistently demonstrated how knowledge produced by and about people of African descent enriches diverse fields of study, ranging from micro-biology to musicology.
From 2001 to 2017, Professor Darnell Hunt served as Director of the Center. In these years, Professor Hunt facilitated the Center’s growth while publishing path-breaking scholarship on the the entertainment industry, Hollywood Diversity Report. On July 1, 2017, Professor Hunt was appointed Dean of Social Sciences.
For 2017/18, I will be serving as the Center’s Interim Director. As a historian, my own scholarship has focused on race, immigration, and the carceral state (police and prison systems) in the United States. My first book, Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol (University of California Press, 2010) explained how race fueled the rise of the U.S. Border Patrol in the U.S.-Mexico border region. My most recent book, City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in the United States (University of North Carolina Press, 2017) chronicles how Los Angeles built the largest jail system on Earth. And my current research, Million Dollar Hoods, is a digital mapping project that documents the staggering cost of incarceration in Los Angeles. It is currently being used by local advocates and policy-makers to shift public funding away from policing and incarceration and toward employment, education, and health care.
For 2017/18, I am anchoring the Million Dollar Hoods research project at the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. From Bunche, our team of faculty, staff, students and community partners are working together to produce new knowledge to end mass incarceration in Los Angeles.
For 2017/18, the Bunche Center will also advance African American Studies at UCLA by supporting a wide range of faculty and student research on two key themes of life and struggle in the modern Black World: Work and Justice. In this endeavor, we will team with the Los Angeles Black Worker Center as well as several community partners working to transform the U.S. criminal justice system. Together, we will build upon the Bunche Center’s rich history of developing and deploying Black Studies as a field of study that transforms the world in which we live.
And, as always, the Bunche Center will continue to host a wide range of events and speakers. On October, 10, 2017, at 5pm, we will host the 2017 Black Convocation gathering. This year’s theme will be “Black Joy.” On November 30, 2017, at 4PM, the Bunche Center will partner with the African American Studies Department and others to bring Professor Heather Ann Thompson to campus to speak about her Pulitzer-Prize winning book, Blood in the Water: The 1971 Attica Uprising and its Legacy. Stay tuned for announcements about these events and more to come.