Who We Are
The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Research in Black Culture and History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was established on July 1, 1988.
Initially known as the Black Cultural Center, it was renamed for beloved faculty member Dr. Sonja Haynes Stone after her untimely passing in 1991.
Upon its inception, the Stone Center was focused on raising awareness of and appreciation for African American culture within our campus community. Over time, that focus has expanded to incorporate cultural and academic programming, including the work of the Institute of African American Research (IAAR), which was conceived of in the early 1990s and founded in 1995 by UNC faculty who believed it was important to have a free-standing center devoted to researching Black life and history.
Today, the Stone Center is an important site for the critical examination of Black culture in the broadest sense and we provide intellectual and cultural programming that is timely, informative, and necessary. In addition to offering robust cultural programming in the arts, we host ongoing outreach and service programs that seek to improve student performance through education and practical experience; we center research and intellectual rigor as an invaluable aspect of what it means to understand Black life and experience; and the spirit of scholarly inquiry that founded the Institute of African American Research is woven into all that we do.
While our work takes our location in the American Southeast seriously, we recognize that Black experience in North Carolina is inextricably linked with global Black experience throughout the Diaspora.
Early in its history, the Stone Center swiftly outgrew its 900-square-foot space in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union. The need for a freestanding center became a top priority. In 1993, after urging by a coalition of students, faculty, and staff, the Board of Trustees approved a site for a freestanding center. The much-anticipated groundbreaking took place in April of 2001. The tri-level 44,5000 square-foot, freestanding Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History opening in August of 2004.
To encourage and support the critical examination of all dimensions of African American and African diaspora cultures through sustained and open discussion, dialogue and debate, and to enhance the intellectual and socio-cultural climate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and in communities beyond the campus boundaries. Our work and activities support the university's objectives to “serve as a center for research, scholarship and creativity and to teach a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate and professional students to become the next generation of leaders” and to “extend knowledge-based services and other resources of the university to the citizens of North Carolina and their institutions to enhance the quality of life for all people in the state.”