Founder Of The First Black Studies Program, Nathan Hare, Has Died

Black stone with the Words "In Memoriam"

( — On Monday, June 10, sociologist, activist, academic, and psychologist Dr. Nathan Hare died at the age of 91.

A self-professed Black Nationalist, Hare was noted for his activism in pursuit of social justice and equality for the American black community. He is often credited as being the father of black studies. Hare was also an accomplished author best known for his book Black Anglo-Saxons. Together with his wife Julia Hare, Hare published six books on the black American experience through their joint enterprise, the Black Think Tank.

Hare was born in 1933 on his parents’ sharecropper farm in Oklahoma. His earliest education was in segregated schools. When his parents separated, he moved with his mother and siblings to San Diego, California. Although he was originally interested in becoming a boxer, he ultimately earned a degree from Langston University, which was the only college in Oklahoma accepting black students at the time. He went to work in 1961 at Howard University as an assistant sociology professor. His time there was fraught with tension as he feuded with the president of the university, James M. Nabrit Jr., due to Nabrit’s intent to increase enrollment of white students.

Hare was dismissed from Howard, had a short stint in professional boxing, and then went to work at San Francisco State College, which later became San Francisco State University. While there, he coined the term “ethnic studies” to replace “minority studies.” His time there was also marked by battle against the administration. Hare led a strike that was supported by many of the students and faculty, demanding the creation of a Black Studies department. Eventually, this was granted, but when he later insisted that the department be a revolutionary tool rather than a traditional academic unit, he was forced out of the college.

Today, the peer-reviewed journal The Black Scholar, which Hare founded in 1969 along with Robert Chrisman and Allan Ross, is considered one of the premier journals in the field of black studies. He eventually left the journal over ideological differences, as many of his colleagues favored Black Marxism over Black nationalism, which has many diametrically opposed ideals. He then changed his focus to psychology, earning his second Ph.D. from the California School of Professional Psychology and setting up a private practice. His wife predeceased him in 2019 and the couple had no children.

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