Georgia State University is marking the 30th anniversary of a student sit-in that prompted the birth of the school’s African American studies department.
A host of virtual and in-person events are scheduled to commemorate the historic demonstrations. Activities include panel discussions next week and a protest reenactment on Nov. 6, 2 p.m. at the student center at 55 Gilmer St.
“We are proud to mark the 30th anniversary of our founding student protests,” department chair Jonathan Gayles said in a written statement. “Their bravery, and the bravery of those that supported them created the foundation upon which we continue to stand.”
In 1992, a group of students protested at Sparks Hall in response to racism on campus, including a slur written on a trash can. The activism was one of a series of demonstrations led that year by Black students who called for actions to create a more inclusive environment for Black and LGBTQ students, including the immediate formation of an African studies department.
”No longer will we tolerate the second largest state school’s failure to offer a major in this critical discipline,” the students wrote, according to a copy of their list of demands preserved by the university’s archives.
Credit: Marlene Karas
Credit: Marlene Karas
The protest led to the 1994 launch of the Department of African American Studies. Its name changed last school year to the Department of Africana Studies and offers bachelor and master’s degrees. More than 40% of Georgia State’s students last fall were Black, according to state data.
Several of the former student activists who participated in the protest will speak during a virtual panel discussion on Monday. Additional panel discussions will take place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and will feature the department’s current and former chairs, alumni and professors at other universities who attended Georgia State.
The panels will be held virtually and will start at 7:15 p.m.
Additional events, including lectures, are planned for later in the school year. A full schedule is available on the university’s website.
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