(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., Mar. 3rd, 2011) ― Karin Stanford has always wanted to change the world. As a child growing up in Inglewood, she wondered why the black boys in her neighborhood were disappearing. She found out many were sent to the California Youth Authority, often wrongly accused and abused.
“I saw it as a problem,” Stanford said. “I thought I could make it better, make a difference.”
Today, Stanford is changing the face of Cal State Northridge’s Department of Pan African Studies (PAS) as only the second woman to head one of the oldest and largest black studies programs in the nation. She also has recently authored “Images of America: African Americans in Los Angeles,” a book she hopes will change the image of the “history” of blacks in Los Angeles.
Stanford went off to college with her mind set on becoming a prison warden or an attorney. She double majored in community service and political science and earned bachelor’s degrees from California State University, Chico. By 1988, she had earned a master’s in public administration from the University of Southern California, but her interests began to change.
“I believe being here is a gift to me,” Stanford said. She carved a niche on campus as an expert on “hip hop culture” as head of the department’s Hip Hop Think Tank and director of the DuBois-Hamer Institute.
Stanford said it is an honor to serve as chair of a department with such a rich history. The department was officially formed in 1969 as the Afro-American Studies Department. It was organized in the wake of campus protests and the mass arrest of hundreds of students who were angry about the treatment of students of color.
“This department has contributed to the growth and development of so many people,” she said. “When students graduate, they leave with a sense of accomplishment, self-esteem and respect for African and African-American culture.”
Her goals as chair include promoting professionalism and integrity, faculty development and expanding study abroad programs and courses that are more policy-oriented for students.
She is the author of several books and articles, including “If We Die: African American Voices on War and Peace,” “Black Political Organizations in the Post Civil Rights Era,” and “Beyond the Boundaries: Reverend Jesse Jackson and International Affairs.”
For her latest book, Stanford partnered with the Institute for Arts and Media at CSUN to put together a collection of images of black life from the beaches to Hollywood to the streets of Central Avenue. The book includes a mix of photos from everyday people to early settlers like Bridget “Biddy” Mason, 1940s and 50s singing great Nat “King” Cole, the legendary Mayor Tom Bradley and the late pop superstar Michael Jackson.
“I hope readers understand the diversity of black life in Los Angeles and the contributions we have made,” she said.
California State University, Northridge has more than 33,000 full- and part-time students and offers 66 bachelor’s and 53 master’s degrees as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Founded in 1958, CSUN is among the largest single-campus universities in the nation and the only four-year public university in the San Fernando Valley. The university serves as the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the Valley and beyond.
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