Georgia State University’s Department of Africana Studies Commemorates 1992 Sit-In


Georgia State University’s Department of Africana Studies Commemorates 1992 Sit-In That Led to the Department’s Creation

Georgia State University students walk outside Sparks Hall in downtown Atlanta.

Georgia State University’s Department of Africana Studies will commemorate and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1992 sit-in on campus that led to the creation of the department and other efforts to embrace diversity on campus.

The department will host a series of virtual and in-person events from Monday, Oct. 31 through Sunday, Nov. 6 that are free and open to the campus community and public at large.

“We are proud to mark the 30th anniversary of our founding student protests,” said Department Chair Jonathan Gayles “Their bravery, and the bravery of those that supported them created the foundation upon which we continue to stand.”

The 1992 sit-in a was part of protests led by African American students after a racial slur was written on a trash can on campus. Their protests, sit-in and demands in Georgia State’s Sparks Hall challenged the school administration to make the campus a safer place for Black students, women and the LGBTQIA community. The principal demand was for a Department of African American Studies.

The students were supported by community leaders as well as supportive faculty and administrators. Their protests led to the creation of the Department of African American Studies (now Africana Studies) at Georgia State, which offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees and has alumni working in media, education, law and public health, as well as scholars in the academy.

Georgia State now graduates more African American students than any nonprofit college or university in the U.S.

“In the same year, we are commemorating the 30th anniversary of the 1992 sit-in and 60 years since integration at Georgia State,” said Sara Rosen, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “Both events were pivotal in our trajectory as a more inclusive and dynamic institution, and we continue to see their lasting impact on our academic excellence.”

Starting on Monday, Oct. 31, the department will host a series of events to honor the students who protested to make Georgia State and the department what it is today. The first panel is a conversation with some of the student activists.

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, current and former chairs of Africana Studies will reflect on the achievements of the department and discuss future plans. On Wednesday, Nov. 2, a panel of alumni working in education, law and community service will address what can be done with an Africana Studies degree. The panel series will culminate on Thursday, Nov. 4 with a discussion from department alumni with doctoral degrees who are now professors at colleges and universities. All panels have a starting time of 7:15 p.m. and are virtual. The series is co-sponsored by the Auburn Avenue Research Library for African-American Culture and History.

The activists of the sit-in will provide testimony and reflection on the protests to an audience of family members, students, faculty and community people on Sunday, Nov. 6, the actual anniversary of the beginning of the 1992 protests. A reception and photo exhibit in the Georgia State Library will close the activities.

“We look forward to this opportunity to bring together current students, alumni and community members to celebrate this important milestone and those that called for the creation of the department 30 years ago,” Gayles said.

For the full schedule, go to:

For additional information on the 30th anniversary or the 1992 student protests, please contact:

  • Professor Akinyele Umoja at or 404-413-5133.
  • Or the Department of Africana Studies 404-413-5135.


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