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Department Chairs

1969-1976
Ewart Guinier

Professor Ewart Guinier is named first chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies.

1976-1979
Eileen Southern

Eileen Southern, professor of Afro-American studies and music, becomes chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies. She is the first black woman to be appointed full professor with tenure at Harvard.

1980-1989
Nathan Irving Huggins

Nathan Irving Huggins, professor of history at Columbia University, accepts Harvard's offer to become chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies. He also is named the first permanent director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research.

1984-1987 and 1988-1990
Werner Sollors

Werner Sollors, Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of Afro-American Studies, serves as acting chair of the department.

1990-1991
Barbara Johnson

At the initiative of President Derek Bok and Henry Rosovsky, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Barbara Johnson, professor of English and American Language and Literature, is selected as interim chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies.  Johnson leads the search for a new chair of Afro-American Studies and a new director of the Du Bois Institute.

1991-2006
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., accepts Harvard's appointment as W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities and begins his tenure as chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies and director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research.

2006 to the present
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies, becomes the second woman to chair the department and the second black woman to be appointed a full professor with tenure in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  She is also the first African American with a tenured appointment in the Department of History.