The Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, founded in 1969 as the Center for Afro-American Studies (CAAS), was renamed after Nobel Prize winner, scholar, activist, and UCLA alumnus Ralph J. Bunche in 2003, in commemoration of the centenary of his birth.
The Bunche Center is the result of the struggle by black students at UCLA to have their history and culture recognized and studied. While the fight to have African American Studies acknowledged as a legitimate field of study was taking place all over America during the 1960s, it took on special significance at UCLA when two Black Panthers, Aprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins, were killed at Campbell Hall in January 1969 after a clash over who would lead the center.
The Bunche Center was established as an Organized Research Unit (ORU), with the mission to develop and strengthen African American Studies through five primary organizational branches: research, academic programs, library and media center, special projects, and publications.
The Center supports research that (1) expands the knowledge of the history, lifestyles, and sociocultural systems of people of African descent and (2) investigates problems that have bearing on the psychological, social, and economic well being of persons of African descent. Research sponsored and conducted by the Bunche Center is multidisciplinary in scope and spans the humanities, social sciences, fine arts, and several professional schools.
Director Kelly Lytle Hernandez, History, African American Studies and Urban Planning professor, administers the Center with the guidance of an advisory committee appointed by the Vice Provost for the Institute of American Cultures (IAC) and composed of faculty from across campus.
The Bunche Center is housed within the IAC, which was established in 1969 to promote the development of ethnic studies at UCLA by providing a structure for coordination of the four ethnic studies centers on campus (Bunche Center, Chicano Studies Research Center, Asian American Studies Center, and American Indian Studies Center). Through each center, the IAC awards annual pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships and faculty and student research grants.
Every day the Center works to live up to the goals set forth by the founders and ‘provide a creative arena for educational development relevant to the lives and existence of African Americans.
To view the latest Annual Report, please click here.