African & African-American Studies and the Fight for Curricular Inclusion


Alamance building at night postcard, circa 1940s.

In May 1923, construction began on Alamance Building to replace the Administration (Old Main) Building that was destroyed by fire in January 1923. The building was named in recognition of the gift from Alamance County residents who donated money for the construction of the building. Some of the intact bricks left after the fire were used in the construction of the new building. Over the years Alamance has housed the executive offices of the College, classrooms, literary society halls, special departments, and a vault for the storage of records.

It is currently home various offices and classrooms including the Provost's Office, the African & African-American Studies at Elon program at Elon, and one of the few spaces on campus named after a Black member of the Elon community, the K. Wilhelmina Boyd Office of African & African-American Studies.


Wilhelmina Boyd in the Department of English began to expand the African American studies offerings in the 1980s and served as the first coordinator of African & African-American Studies at Elon. 

Black students demanded courses in Black studies immediately after integration in the 1960s, though Elon’s academic leaders did not support the requests and did not establish the African & African-American Studies program until 1994. "Concerned and enlightened Black students of Elon College” demanded in November 1969 for the school to offer “a course dealing exclusively with Black studies” and “the hiring of at least one Black professor,” with “at least a Master’s degree in Black History.” Not only did the college not offer a course, but it did not rehire the professor, Charles Harper, whom the petitioners had recommended to teach it.

Black students continued to push for Elon to commit to the scholarly study of the lives and experiences of Black people — examples can be found in one of the Black Cultural Society’s formal petitions from 1978 - but the college moved slowly. Andrew Angyal in the English department finally offered the first course in African American studies in 1979, “Modern Black American Literature” (ENG 371). In 1987, Fellow English faculty member Wilhelmina Boyd became the institution’s only full- time Black faculty member and began to expand the offerings. Boyd took the helm of African & African-American Studies from its inception in 1994 and built a program characterized by outstanding breadth and depth.

Alamance Building