BOULDER, Colo. – The University of Colorado Boulder recently opened a Center for African and African American Studies.
The center, located inside CU Boulder’s Macky Auditorium, will serve multiple purposes for students and faculty.
“We call this center the CAAAS, pronounced cause,” CU Boulder’s Center for African and African American Studies director Reiland Rabaka said. “The center has three program areas, major program areas. Number one is research, this is a research university. Number two, the arts… then certainly, arguably the most important, our student services program.”
Less than 3% of CU Boulder students identify as Black. Rabaka said for many students, this creates a feeling of isolation.
“I have gotten so many emails from very concerned parents, mostly out of state, who would not be able to come and to drop their students off, or when they actually dropped them off, they would say, "Now, you better take care of my baby." After a while, after a couple of weeks here or month here, the students would feel very alienated,” he said.
Rabaka said the CAAAS will serve as a safe space for Black students and anyone else who’s interested in Black culture.
Program manager La’Keisha Anderson joined the CAAAS a year ago.
“I'm helping assist in building programs that will help foster community and also teach people about what it is to be African American on a predominantly white campus,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the CAAAS is already changing her life.
“I believe that the work that we do in life, it has to be a driving force of our purpose… the CAAAS has been for me,” Anderson said.
Rabaka said he looks forward to welcoming everyone to the center.
“I think that there's a tendency to focus on the tragedy of the Black experience. This is one of those triumphs,” he said. “We invite family, friends and allies to come together and to experience the best of African American culture… I feel like this center represents a lot of people's hopes and dreams come true. It's kind of like Sam Cooke said, it's been a long time coming.”
The CAAAS will host a grand opening event in February 2023.