The Africana Center originated in late 1995 and early 1996 through the efforts of the African American Faculty and Staff Association. It was formally recognized in Octorber 1997. W.E.B. Du Bois, a premier African scholar, coined the phrase "Africana" in 1909 in his vision to create the Encyclopedia Africana, a comprehensive collection of information about black history and culture in Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Carribbean. Africana is a term that refers to all people of African decent.
The Africana Center functions both as a library resource center and a community center, with the goals of scholarship, leadership, and community responsibility about and for Africana people. The Africana Center supports and sponsors programs and scholarship specific to Africana life, history, and culture.