NewsBlack History Month

Wayne State to launch new Black studies center, hire dozens of faculty

Posted at 5:47 PM, Feb 01, 2023

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Wayne State University is preparing to create the Detroit Center for Black Studies thanks to a $6 million grant from the Mellon Foundation.

University provost Mark Kornbluh said the grant will also help launch a hiring program to recruit 30 new humanities faculty.

“Recent scholarship across all disciplines have focused on the idea that... our history, our culture, everything we do has been conditioned by a history of slavery, a history of racism, of struggles for freedom,” Kornbluh told 7 Action News.

“So, the goal here is to significantly increase our scholarship, our teaching, our community engagement around issues that relate to Black studies."

As Kornbluh points out, WSU is located in the largest majority Black city in America, making these types of courses that much more important.

African American studies professor Ollie Johnson said, “I tell everybody that Detroit is one of the most important cities in, not only in the nation, but the world. Especially when it comes to the Black community, to Black people. The contribution in culture, art, literature are amazing.”

Hester Wheeler, a self-described lifelong learner at WSU, said he takes African American studies classes each semester, which helps him expand his worldview.

"If you're at Wayne State University in the heart of Detroit and you don't take one class about the Black experience, shame on you," he said.