"I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. . . . When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed, everything and anything except me." When Ralph Ellison opened his classic novel with these words, African American people and culture were indeed often invisible within larger United States society. Thanks to the hard work of those who fought to establish programs in the study of African American and black diasporic cultures, this invisibility has diminished. The Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia was part of this mission and embraces this legacy as it continues its commitment to future intellectual and historical discovery. Housed in the Holmes-Hunter Academic Building, an edifice commemorating the desegregation of University of Georgia, the Institute's site symbolizes the remembrance of history to impact future change.
We invite you to explore our website and its "related links" — The Civil Rights Digital Library, our student-run multicultural journal Mandala — and to keep abreast of our activities through our newsletter and events calendar.
African American Studies is not a static body, and what I call the "new Black Studies" is moving into an innovative phase, one that asserts the applicability of this culture to global civil rights, world intellectual history, and all manner of artistic expression. Study within African American cultural history provides a basis for understanding political, social, and economic relations throughout human history. With this in mind, Ellison's closing to Invisible Man seems far more resonant with our time: "Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?"