Our History

GRIOT: A central figure in many West African cultures. Historically, the griot held many functions, including community historian, cultural critic, indigenous artist and collective spokesperson. The Griot Institute for the Study of Black Lives & Cultures provides faculty, staff and student intellectual and creative engagement with the interdisciplinary investigation of the cultures, histories, narratives, peoples, geographies and arts of Africa and the African diaspora.

In spring 2008, the Toni Morrison Society, a literary organization housed under the umbrella of the American Literature Association, approached Bucknell with a request to establish Bucknell as its institutional home. Bucknell and the Toni Morrison Society entered into a three-year contractual agreement on July 1, 2008.

During the first year of the affiliation with the Toni Morrison Society, the Bucknell office not only supported the activities of the larger organization, but also created and conducted co-curricular programming on campus. In November 2009, the board of the Toni Morrison Society concluded the affiliation before the end of the contract due to a desire to relocate to Oberlin, which is proximate to Lorain, Ohio, Toni Morrison’s hometown.

In December 2010, the Office of the Provost formally approved a proposal, forwarded in the wake of the departure of the Toni Morrison Society, to establish the Griot Institute for Africana Studies, a Bucknell organization dedicated to the interdisciplinary scholarly and creative investigations of Black arts, literatures and cultures.

Through its academic, programmatic and scholarly endeavors, the Griot Institute, now named the Griot Institute for the Study of Black Lives and Cultures, enhances Bucknell’s mission by directly addressing many of the objectives of The Plan for Bucknell 2025. The engagements of the Griot Institute also help to fulfill the general missions of the University and the goals of the University curricula.

The Griot offices are located on the second floor of Hildreth-Mirza Hall.

Contact Details

Griot Institute for the Study of Black Lives & Cultures


Hildreth-Mirza Hall, Second Floor