About the Department
African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University is a proud product of the 1960's Black freedom movement. Originally established as an academic division in October 1969 as Black Studies, it achieved formal department status in 1972 and today enjoys the reputation of being one of the strongest African American and African Studies programs in the nation. The primary mission of the department is to stimulate teaching and research about the Black experience in the United States, Africa and throughout the African Diaspora, and to encourage students and others to assess various strategies for advancing human progress through the examination of the global struggle for Black freedom.
Professor Charles O. Ross
Associate Professor Emeritus
1934 – 2013
Professor Charles O. Ross served as an activist, educator, and orator at The Ohio State University (OSU) for thirty-five years. He joined the faculty as an Associate Professor in the College of Social Work at The Ohio State University in 1970. Professor Ross served as the first Director of the Division of Black Studies in 1970. Professor Ross began social justice activism on the OSU campus and within the Columbus community. He raised the public’s awareness on the use of excessive force by the Columbus Division of Police and the lack of recruitment and retention of African-American students, faculty and staff at OSU. Professor Ross functioned as a political consultant to the mayoral campaigns of Richard Hatcher (Gary, Indiana) and Harold Washington (Chicago, Illinois). He served as a delegate for Presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic National Convention.
Professor Ross is a graduate of Stillman College where he received his B.A. in English and a graduate of the University of Chicago where he received his M.A. degree in Social Work. He has received the Outstanding Professor Award in the College of Social Work.
Dr. William E. “Nick” Nelson Jr.
Dr. Nelson served as an educator, scholar, and mentor at The Ohio State University (OSU) for forty years. He served as the Assistant Director of Division of Black Studies from 1970 to 1971 and Chair of the Black Studies Department (now the Department of African American and African Studies) from 1972 to 1986. Dr. Nelson, as chair, instigated undergraduate and graduate degrees in Black Studies at OSU. He help establish the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Department of African American and African Studies Extension Center, and the Frank W. Hale, Jr. Black Cultural Center. Dr. Nelson was the host of the WOSU weekly radio program “Black Studies Broadcast Journal.”
Dr. Nelson’s road to academic excellence began at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff (UAPB) where he received his B.A. degree in History and Government, next his M.A. in Political Science from the Clark-Atlanta University, and finally his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Illinois. Dr. Nelson held joint appointments as a Research Professor of African American and African Studies and as a Professor of Political Science.
Ohio State Lantern Friday, December 05, 1969 2
Ohio State Lantern Monday March 09, 1970 2
Mr. Lerone Bennett Jr.
October 17, 1928 -- February 14, 2018
Black Studies Lecture Series, "Dedication Lecture"
November 10, 1971
1971 The Ohio State University Archives