African American Studies


Summary by Eliza Anderson.

Dr. Claude Mangum is an integral member of the Fordham community, arriving first as the director of the Upward Bound program in 1969 before joining the faculty of the Institute of Afro-American Studies, which would later become the Department of African and

African-American Studies. Dr. Mangum was an assistant professor, associate professor, and chair of the department before his retirement in 2011.

Dr. Mangum began his educational career as a high school teacher, attending Queen’s College before starting to teach at John Bowne High School in Flushing, Queens. He completed a Masters and PHD at Columbia Teachers College, but saw his vocation as continuing to work in the public school system to help disadvantaged students attend university. His journey at Fordham began when he took on a part-time position with the Upward Bound program, allowing him to work closely with students of color to prepare them for success in college. Dr. Mangum’s office was on the second floor of Dealy Hall, across the hall from Dr. Mark Naison, Dr. Quentin Bernard Wilkes, and the newly formed Institute of Afro-American Studies. He described this space as a “refuge” for students who felt unwelcome at the university. It was here that Dr. Naison and the other Institute faculty convinced Dr. Mangum to join the university as a professor.

As a professor in the Institute of Afro-American Studies, Dr. Mangum was able to teach a diverse set of students in African and African-American history courses that were then part of the Fordham core curriculum. The popularity of these classes within the Institute would later lead to organized pushback from other departments against their inclusion in the core. It wouldn’t be until six years into the Institute that a woman faculty member joined the ranks, and Dr. Mangum witnessed the changes in the university as it became co-educational in 1974. After the Institute was transformed into the Department of African and African-American Studies, he and Dr. Naison threatened to leave Fordham after the university refused to hire Dr. Mark Chapman, a scholar in Black religion. Their efforts resulted in Dr. Chapman’s appointment to the AFAM Department. In his years as a Fordham professor, Dr. Mangum witnessed many racial barriers that existed for students of color at the university, including barriers to medical school entrance and discriminatory treatment resulting from the walls that separated the university from

the Bronx. He reflects on his teaching style as interactive and supportive, drawing from his experience as a high school teacher and placing significant emphasis on students developing

their own research interests.