by Shari E. Miles, Ph.D.

Introduction.   The African American Women's Institute at Howard University (AAWI) is a university-based research, education and community support center whose mission is guided by an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of issues related to African American women and their families. It is a focal point for cross-cultural studies of women of color. The AAWI's research emphasis includes chronicling African American women's history, research, and scholarship, with particular focus on the upper south of the United States. While examining the complex interface between race, sex, and class in the region and nationally, the AAWI will emphasize the compelling ways women have been actively involved in reshaping the culture and managing their economic realities. In addition, the AAWI seeks to build collaborative links with other local university women's programs and community organizations and also seeks to create scholarly exchange programs between the University and local institutions like the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, the Bethune Museum and Archives, and the Library of Congress. The AAWI is creating a nexus between African American women and other women of the Diaspora and is developing a mentoring/support program and certificate program for women on the Howard University campus and in the community. Finally, the AAWI is committed to extending its expertise and resources to the community.

Background. Founded in 1993 by Dr. Florence B. Bonner—in collaboration with Dr. Lila Ammons (Department of Afro-American Studies), Dr. Elizabeth Clark-Lewis (Department of History), Dr. Carol Shuttlesworth (formerly with the Department of English), and Dr. Janet Sims-Wood (Moorland-Spingarn Research Center)—the African American Women's Institute (AAWI) was established at Howard University to highlight and to encourage research for and about African American women and to serve the larger African American community. The AAWI Committee was reorganized in 1994 to include Artis Hampshire-Cowan (Secretary of Board of Trustees and Vice President for Human Resources for the University), Janette Dates (Dean of the School of Communications), Norma Leftwich (Howard University General Counsel), Shari E. Miles (Women's Research & Education Institute), Harriet Harper (U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau), and Arlene Fong-Craig (U.S. Department of Commerce). Dr. Shari E. Miles joined the AAWI as interim director in December 1998. Currently, Dr. Florence B. Bonner chairs the AAWI Advisory Committee.


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May 2000