BOULDER, Colo. - After 15 years of discussions, the University of Colorado Boulder announced the opening of a new Center for African and African American Studies (CAAAS), also called “The Cause”.
The center will focus on research, visual and performing arts, and student services. University administrators told Denver7 it will be also open to anyone looking to learn more about Black culture.
“If we make African American studies accessible to a wider audience, we would often be amazed at how other folks would respond to our history, to our culture, to our struggle,” said Reiland Rabaka, the new director of the center.
Rabaka, a current CU Boulder professor of African and African American studies, told Denver7 many Black alumni feel the center is long overdue and should’ve been created during the Black Power movement of the '60s and '70s, a step that many other flagship universities took during that time.
But Rabaka said the Black Lives Matter movement sparked renewed interest and support.
“It’s really important for us to be responsive to what’s happening in society right now. So, this center sort of grows out of a long-standing struggle since the '60s and the '70s but also what’s happening right here and right now,” said Rabaka.
According to Rabaka, of CU Boulder’s 33,000 students, less than 500 are Black. But students were able to gather 1,200 signatures in support of the center.
“What we did was take a page out of the Black Lives Matter movement book and … reach out to many of our white allies. They, too, want to learn African studies, they want to learn African American studies as well,” said Rabaka.
Rabaka told Denver7 programming and curriculum at the center will range from contemporary topics to more traditional subjects.
“We will provide both a historic and a current focus. Say, for instance, I teach a course on the Harlem Renaissance, I will also teach a course on the hip hop movement,” said Rabaka.
CU Boulder is still trying to identify a physical location for the center but the university hopes to officially open the doors by 2022.