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Martin Kilson, Scholar and Racial Pathbreaker at Harvard, Dies at 88
April 30, 2019 | The New York Times | By Richard Sandomir.

Martin Kilson, a leftist scholar, fierce debater and follower of W. E. B. Du Bois who became the first tenured African-American professor at Harvard, died on April 24 in Lincoln, Mass. He was 88.....Professor Kilson was a prolific writer, an expert on ethnic politics in Africa and the United States, and a mentor to generations of students, among them the writer, teacher and philosopher Cornel West......Professor Kilson, an avowed integrationist, was already teaching courses in African politics in the 1960s when black students were starting to assert themselves on predominantly white campuses like Harvard.......Professor Kilson was a faculty sponsor of the Harvard-Radcliffe Association of African and Afro-American Students. But after the university’s Afro-American studies department was established in 1969, he became disenchanted with its governance, criticizing it as lacking academic rigor and maintaining that it had become an enclave for radical black students.

“Black solidarity forces are distinctly anti-intellectual and anti-achievement in orientation,” he wrote in a provocative essay about Harvard in The New York Times Magazine in 1973. “They indulge in the ‘black magic’ of nationalism, believing that miracles are possible if Negroes display fidelity to black nationalism or separatism and its anti-white attitudes, rituals and symbols.”....Kilson argued that the radical politics of separatists was an academic dead end.....“It took extraordinary courage in 1969 to challenge Black Panther and black power rhetoric,” the Rev. Eugene Rivers III, a former student of Professor Kilson’s, said in a telephone interview. “And he was right.”......Professor Kilson encountered Du Bois, the pioneering urban sociologist who was a founder of the N.A.A.C.P., as a freshman at Lincoln University, a HBCU....Du Bois remained an influence throughout Professor Kilson’s career....Harvard hired him as a lecturer in government in 1962. He was named an assistant professor two years later and granted tenure in 1968.

“He took a lot of pride in that accomplishment,” his daughter Hannah Kilson said in a telephone interview....Kilson used that sharp pen in 2002 when he challenged Randall L. Kennedy, a distinguished African-American professor at Harvard Law School, over the title of Professor Kennedy’s book “Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word.”
academic_rigor  African-Americans  Black_Panthers  black_nationalism  black_power  black_separatism  black_studies  Cornel_West  Eugene_Rivers  Harvard  Henry_Louis_Gates  integration  left-wing  obituaries  PhDs  scholars  trailblazers  W.E.B._Du_Bois  wishful_thinking 
may 2019 by jerryking
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