Careers for graduates with a degree in African American studies are found throughout the United States, but with the greatest concentration in metropolitan areas or regions that are home to large minority populations. African-American studies is a relative newcomer in the academic arsenal of many colleges and universities. Like degrees in women’s studies, degrees in African American studies came out of the 60’s push to expand the recognition of the civil rights of all Americans. Programs in African American studies appeared first on the east coast at Harvard University and on the west coast at Stanford University. Today graduates with a degree in African American studies come from colleges and universities all over the country and prepare for careers in public, private and non profit employment.
Black History, Civil Rights Facilities The academic training received by graduates with a degree in African American studies has uniquely prepared them to apply for career positions on the staffs of many of America’s premier museums, cultural centers and historic sites. Across the country, museums that feature American art, music or theater displays are likely to have career opportunities for graduates with a degree in African American studies who are qualified to supervise the development of their African American galleries, displays and exhibits.
The leadership of institutions with multicultural displays recognize that it is important to work with graduates with a degree in African American studies in order to insure the cultural authenticity and historical accuracy of all of the African American exhibits and the manner in which they are displayed and incorporated in the total museum presentation. By hiring a graduate with a degree in African American studies on staff, museums’ leadership believe they have added to the overall brain trust and cultural awareness of their building.
In places like Birmingham, Selma, Montgomery and Atlanta, there are Civil Rights Institutes and Museums. These facilities allow visitors to travel back through time to relive and remember the history and tragedy of race relations in the United States. Graduates with a degree in African American studies will find they can fill valuable career positions by serving as research assistants, instructors and guides to the thousands that visit these facilities each year.
The job of museum administrators is to insure that visitors to these facilities have the opportunity to improve their understanding of African American history in particular and American history in general. To complete this task, administrators will screen candidates to hire staff that can give meaningful presentations, commentary and can correctly respond to questions about the meaning of the struggle for civil rights in America. Graduates with a degree in African American studies have the academic background to fit effectively into these positions.
The salary for these museum and institute careers will not be six figures but is apt to increase with experience and tenure. From the beginning of their employment however, graduates with a degree in African American studies will take pride and pleasure in sharing the full history of civil rights with visitors of every national and racial background.
Civil Rights Division Graduates with a degree in African American studies may feel a real call to work in federal government departments that help to maintain hard won civil rights in America.. Though key civil rights legislation was passed in the United States as many as forty years ago, transgressions in the area of civil rights continue with frequency today. Some graduates with a degree in African American studies may wish to follow careers in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department with the hope of using their background knowledge to the betterment of race relations and justice. Some of the jobs require additional study and even a law degree but there are entry level positions for which graduates with a degree in African American studies can qualify. Relocation may be an issue as many positions exist in Washington or in district offices around the nation.
Non-Profits For some graduates with a degree in African American studies the most important lesson they learned in their four years of study was that there remain large sections of American society where African Americans and other minorities live in poverty . They need assistance and direction to help them to unlock their potential, make use of government entitlement programs and find the education and employment that can empower them and bring them into the American mainstream
Some graduates with a degree in African American studies will be drawn to person to person careers that will reach out with sensitivity to African Americans and other minority groups as agents of non-profit organizations. Graduates with a degree in African American studies may find that their academic and experiential background have ideally prepared them to connect in a compassionate but realistic way with the needs and aspirations of African Americans in cities and in rural areas across the country.
There generally are lots of career openings with non-profits but not every graduate with a degree in African American studies is the right candidate for these slots. In addition to knowledge and compassion there must be real commitment and a willingness to stay the course and be a presence in the lives of people who have little to hope for. Oh, and they can’t expect to get paid much for their efforts.
High School History Teacher After taking sufficient education credits, graduates with a degree in African American studies may find that they are qualified and certified to teach social studies courses at the high school level. Their expertise will make them especially welcomed in districts where there is a large African American population or in districts that value a liberal education. Any school board that recognizes that American history is incomplete and askew without an understanding of its African American aspect, will definitely want to interview and be open to hiring a graduate with a degree in African American studies who is also a certified educator. Teaching jobs offer steady and reliable employment, good benefits and the much beloved summer vacation package.
Media Personality Graduates with a degree in African American studies who also have writing or speaking proficiency may find career positions working as the resident authority on all things African American for television stations, radio talk shows and newspapers. The unique perspective that graduates with a degree in African American studies can bring to daily news stories, art, music films, theater, museum exhibits, sports and of course inter-racial events provides a much valued voice for organizations hoping to appeal to a diverse audience. On air jobs are likely to provide a nifty salary but the longevity of such positions is hard to predict. Access to such positions is often highly competitive but credentials as a graduate with a degree in African American studies does give a candidate a resume edge.
All graduates with a degree in African American studies have earned not only a diploma but also the chance to help enrich our nation and our minorities . The sense of accomplishment graduates with a degree in African American studies can expect to experience will overshadow whatever shortages appear in the weekly pay slip.