Black Studies is an activist-based discipline that embraces the study of the arts, humanities, and social behavioral sciences relating to African Americans. It is an interdisciplinary program and aims to help African Americans gain a full understanding of their experiences. Black Studies programs have been influenced by many events, actions, and people. Significant among the influences of society is the Civil Rights Movement, during which black academicians and leaders expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of courses and inaccurate content of those offered about the African-American experience, as well as agitation of the Black Student Movement. Black students themselves became proud of their heritage, culture, and lives, and concluded that they were underrepresented, misrepresented, and/or not represented in academic curricula. Black Studies programs were offered as early as 1966, beginning with black course offerings which, in later years, developed into undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including the doctoral degree. Nathan Hare (1933–) is often regarded as the founder of Black Studies programs; he was hired at San Francisco University to coordinate the first Black Studies program in the United States.
An Episcopalian priest and professor, Alexander Crummell cofounded the American Negro Academy in Washington, D.C.