A Great Loss: The Passing of Dr. Asa Grant Hilliard III (Amankwatia Baffour II) (1933-2007)
|A Great Loss: The Passing of Dr. Asa Grant Hilliard III (1933-2007)
|Wednesday, 12 September 2007
by BAR contributing editor Donald H. Smith, Ph.D.
There are times when a truly exemplary person dwells among us. Such was the case with Dr. Asa Grant Hilliard III, who fought on so many levels for excellence and equality for the African Diaspora - itself a global phenomenon that is the product of horrific aggression and exploitation, but gave birth to many distinct and magnificent cultures. Yet the fountain of humanity springs forth and renews itself, in the fragile but vital form of human beings who seek rebirth: like Asa Hilliard, who was honored by thousands at his funeral in Atlanta. A great friend of his, the author, honors the passing, "or homecoming," of an African American treasure.
A Great Loss: The Passing of Dr. Asa Grant Hilliard III (1933-2007)
by BAR contributing editor Donald H. Smith, Ph.D.
Dr. Smith delivered these remarks at the funeral for Asa Grant Hilliard III, who died August 13 in Cairo, Egypt, of complications from malaria.
"The thousands who came to Atlanta for the two-day homecoming of this giant knew and adored him"
The African world has lost one of the most distinguished, most influential educators of our times. He was a psychologist, educator, humanitarian, Egyptologist, master teacher, lecturer, researcher and author of more than a thousand publications. At the time of his transition he had been the Fuller E. Calloway Distinguished Professor at Georgia State University for twenty-seven years. He had previously been dean of the School of Education at San Francisco State University and had served as superintendent of schools in Liberia.
Dr. Hilliard´s burning mission was to free the minds of African people worldwide and to protect African people. He traveled extensively giving workshops and advice to school systems and universities throughout the United States and Africa. He was often called upon to give expert testimony on the testing of children of African descent. He served as lead expert witness in several landmark federal cases on test validity and bias.
Dr. Hilliard´s knowledge and influence were enormous. He was a renaissance man with abounding energy and love for African people. Of his many accomplishments the most important may well be his continuing demand for academic and cultural excellence for children, for adults of African ancestry.
He insisted that the knowledge of African history and culture was essential to the mental health and wholeness of African people. He co-chaired the First National Conference on the Infusion of African and African-American Content in the School Curriculum. In his classic document, Saving the African American Child, co-authored with the late icon Dr. Barbara A. Sizemore and other members of the National Alliance of Black School Educators, Dr. Hilliard insisted that academic and cultural excellence were inseparable companions. The complete education of children of African descent demanded both.
"Dr. Hilliard insisted that academic and cultural excellence were inseparable companions."
He stated that the block to academic and cultural excellence is the legacy of racism and the belief in white supremacy and superiority and its concomitant imputation of Black inferiority.
"We can never forget or permit others to forget that our present level of development as a people is due to long-standing racist and exploitive practices and the absence of justice.
"We are entitled to more than an equal opportunity to compete with those whose privileged status has been won at our expense, giving them an unfair head start in all competition. Justice demands fairness, compensation and retribution."
The history of African people in the United States has witnessed few who have been so truthful and so wise.
Dr. Hilliard´s homegoing was an historic outpouring of love from thousands who attended the two-day tribute at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College. There were other Africanist scholars, educators, students, clergy, admirers, family, friends and community. They came from many parts of the US and the world. There were Ashanti Chief rites, drummers, dancers, an outstanding choir, magnificent solos and brilliant oratory.
The tallest tree had fallen and not many heard it. Most Americans, most people of African descent, will never know how much he influenced several generations of teachers, administrators and governing boards, will not be aware of the powerful influence he had on other educators and upon the education of children of African descent. But the thousands who came to Atlanta for the two-day homecoming of this giant knew him, the hundreds who signed the online guest book knew him, and those who had been privileged to attend conferences or workshops, read his books or see his videos knew and adored Asa Grant Hilliard III.
Dr. Hilliard brought study groups to Ghana and Egypt for thirty years. He made his transition in Cairo while leading his annual study tour to Kemet. It was a place he loved dearly. He was a founding member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations. Many say it was appropriate that his last words were spoken at Kemet.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard, former mayor of East Point, Georgia, his children Asa Grant Hilliard IV, Robi D. Hillard Herron, Dr. M. Patricia E. Hilliard-Nunn and M. Hakim Hilliard, Esq.
Asa was my great friend, and it was my honor to speak at his service. Dr. Asa Grant Hilliard III will be deeply missed. One can only hope his example and inspiration will convince others to have the vision and the courage to carry on his monumental work.
Donald H. Smith, Ph.D. is Associate Provost and Professor (Emeritus) at Baruch College, the City University of New York. He can be contacted at Dohugh@aol.com .
Amankwatia Baffour II [Dr. Asa Grant Hilliard III] dies.
22 August 1933 - 12 August 2007
Compiled with dispatches from diverse sources by Brother Metu.
CAIRO, KEMET (Egypt) - August 2007 - One of the giants in the academic world left us this past weekend in the most appropriate place it could happen, in Cairo, Kemet (Egypt), where he studied, wrote about, lectured, researched, conducted tour groups and redeemed his soul. He was attending the ASCAC (Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations) Conference, an organization he co-founded, and giving lectures to the Pastor Jeremiah Wright tour group.
Early reports state that he passed due to complications of contracting malaria. More details are yet to come and funeral arrangements have not been made thus far.
Those of us who knew Baba Baffour, and / or were familiar with him, knew him as one of the premier scholars / researchers / educators / authors this world has ever seen. He was supremely dedicated to the total liberation and education of Afrikan peoples specifically, but humanity in general. It was his efforts that primarily started the Curriculum of Inclusion Movement, balancing school curriculums by adding information and lessons on Afrikan people. He was an educational psychologist, but dedicated his life to improving teaching/learning methods for children, and educating Afrikan people about our history. Family was the highest point of his consciousness.
In an interview I conducted with Baba Baffour, seeing parents as the first teachers, he stated, "What kids get from us most of the time are instructions: ´do this,´ ´don´t do that,´ ´watch out for this,´ ´watch out for that.´ That´s a monologue. What has to happen, if you want to activate the child´s intelligence, and release that intelligence, that child has to be invited to engage in questioning, in critique, all of those kinds of things. Parents have to organize their communication with children. All we have to do is remember to do it. We know how to do it, but we slip into some awfully bad habits.
I´m not quite sure what the reasons are for those bad habits, but they are very prominent among our people. You know: ´shut up,´ ´be quiet,´ ´sit down.´ That may give you control over the child´s behavior, but doesn´t give the child´s mind anything. The child has, if the mind is going to grow, it´s got to chew on something. It´s got to turn it over, try it out and not be directed from moment to moment. Nurturing that independent critical orientation is a part of what a parent has to do for a child."
In the land he loved so much, Baba Baffour wanted to go beyond just admiring our ancient past, where the foundation of civilization existed. Being pro-active he did the following. "Somewhere in the late sixties, mid sixties to late sixties, I became acquainted with people who enhanced my information about Afrika, especially classical Afrikan civilizations. I knew that at some point I had to do more work to share this information. I tried to figure out a way to do that, mainly through slide presentations and lectures and so forth. But it occurred to me, that it would be much more powerful to be able to examine concretely whatever is left of that civilization, where it is right now.
The way to do that would be through a study tour. So my wife and I designed a study tour and tried to locate people who were really serious about study. We´re not interested in folk who want to collect ashtrays and float on the Nile and do all that. It´s a very hard working tour. We were up early and we go to bed late. We felt by being on the site, by visiting the museums, by visiting the monuments, by getting some sense of the space, geography, time perspective, that would help to make more real what this thing was in the past."
In his parting statement, which applies even today, he leaves us with, "Let me say the thing that´s of course on my mind. We require a massive mobilization of Afrikan people around the world. We need to see what the future looks like for us in the next thirty to forty years. We need to take a long view. In fact, we need to think about the next two hundred years. To be real conservative, where do we want Afrikan people to be in the world twenty years from now? If you get an answer to that question that´s anywhere near correct, it tells you what you got to do now to get ready for that.
I´m concerned because we are not now doing what we need to do to get ready for the world I think we would like to have, if we thought about it. I just would really hope we begin to mobilize our thoughts and ultimately our resources toward creating a new future for Afrikan people. That we revise and revitalize the continent so we will be safe wherever we live, anywhere in the world.
And for the young, there was an old Bible verse that my mother emphasized when I was growing up, I still live by it and think of it all the time. One of the few I can remember completely. It was II Timothy 2:15 which says, ´Study to show yourself approved unto God, not unto man, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.´"
Amankwatia Baffour II [Dr. Asa Grant Hilliard III]
by Dr. Kwaku Person-Lynn
On Sunday my head began to feel like I wanted to withdraw into a quiet place. On Monday my head felt like one feels when travelling in high altitudes, ears popping, thoughts difficult to say with ease. I was in a meeting and cut it short. It seemed like the brother I was meeting with was there but not there. I sensed something was not quite right. I visited with my aunt and told her something was happening that would affect people around the world and it wasn’t good. Someone of great importance was going to pass over or had passed already. I told her of the dream I had Sunday night. At the time I did not recognize the person but it was Dr. Asa. He appeared as he looked in his younger years and presented me with his sacred beads and an amulet of some type. I said no I cannot take these, that you need them. You can’t give away your sacred beads. He just smiled and held them up for me to take. I now know that he offered me proof of the eternal life of the spirit. I have had these experiences with family members, but nothing so physically powerful as this one. I met Dr. Hilliard in his office once and he gave me two very large books on curriculum and said I think you will know what to do with these. He was so very down to earth. I never felt like I was stranger to him. He makes you feel like he has known you all your life, or better still, like a family member. He agreed to serve on my board for a living history park because it did not start with slavery!
PLease everyone, send the articles about Dr. Hilliard around the world to all educators that you may or may not know. In Indiana , the superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools is working on ideas to keep young black males in schools. They claim it is a crisis in the US. Yet they have no idea of Dr. Hilliard’s work or any other African American Scholar, nor seem interested in embracing it. So bobbard them…do not go silently into the night! Let Dr. Hilliard’s spirit roll on like the mighty Nile River to help enhance the quality of education for all of our students everywhere they can be found!
Long Live the King!
Dr. Ayaba Bey
Professor Asa G. Hilliard Dies in Egypt
by Ibram Rogers
About 200 members of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC) gathered Tuesday morning in Luxor, Egypt, at the tomb of Thutmose IV to commemorate the passing of one of the organization’s founders, the renowned multi-faceted scholar — Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III.
Hilliard died Sunday in Cairo, Egypt, 10 days shy of his 74th birthday. The cause of death has not been confirmed, but one source says that he died of malaria, which he contracted in Ghana where he was enstooled as a king and another says that he was sick before he left the United States.
Whatever the cause of his death, Hilliard joined the pantheon of ancestors doing what he loved — teaching about the contributions of ancient Egypt to human civilization, in a place that he loved — the Nile Valley. He will also leave a legacy as the celebrated conductor of the modern African-centered educational movement.
“There is no educational scholar who has impacted the way we educate young people more than Dr. Asa Hilliard,” says Molefi Asante, a professor of African-American Studies at Temple University, who just returned from Nigeria to the news. “Asa was a multidisciplinary and multitalented intellectual. He has inspired generations to see ancient Egypt as the classical civilization of the Black World. I have known him for more than 35 years and during that time he has been a lightening rod for social, educational, and political transformation.”
Hilliard, a teacher, historian, educational consultant, historian and activist, has produced numerous articles and technical papers on African-centered pedagogy, curricula, cultural styles, public policy, child growth and development and African history. He has also consulted with various school districts, universities and government agencies on those topics.
Hilliard, the founding member of the National Black Child Development Institute, has written and co-written several books, including Sba the Reawakening of the African Mind, The Maroon Within Us: Selected Essays on African American Community Socialization and The Teachings of Ptahhotep.
Born in Galveston, Texas, in 1933, Hilliard attended the University of Denver where he earned his bachelor’s and Ed.D. in educational psychology and a master’s in counseling. Hilliard went on to teach in Denver’s public schools and serve on the faculty at San Francisco State University for 18 years. From 1980, until his death, Hilliard had been the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University in Atlanta, with joint appointments in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education.
In addition to being an integral part of the African-centered educational community and the Black Studies family, Hilliard was a vital constituent of Black Atlanta. He was the chairman of the programs committee of the highly influential 100 Black Men of Atlanta Inc.
The organization is mourning his death, issuing a statement that in part says: “Dr. Hilliard served as a formidable catalyst for social change as well as a beacon for the preservation and advocacy of African cultures throughout the world. His impact upon our organization, its members and the communities we serve has been immeasurable. The nation has experienced a significant loss.”
Hilliard’s final public lecture was on Aug. 7. He was the speaker for the opening plenary session in Egypt for ASCAC’s 24th Annual Ancient Kemetic Studies Conference. His lecture was titled: “From Sah, Spdt, Spd to the Drinking Gourd: ASCAC, KMT and Pan Africanism Not to Perish.”
Dr. Greg Carr, an executive board member of ASCAC who attended the lecture, says Hilliard did not appear to be his normal energetic self.
However, he still managed to dig down deep and give a powerful lesson about the importance of “carrying ourselves with a deep historical consciousness,” says Carr, an associate professor of Afro-American Studies at Howard University. “He implored us to raise our consciousness and enter the world as historical beings. He consistently emphasized that we pursue intellectual excellence, really be responsible to our communities and teach our children how to explore and engage.”
The next day — Aug. 8 — ASCAC held a banquet where the preeminent Black psychologist Dr. Na’im Akbar of Florida State University gave the conference’s keynote speech. Hilliard, who was on the main dais, had to be escorted out during Akbar’s speech because he was so ill.
“That’s the last time he appeared publicly,” Carr says.
Hilliard flew to Cairo and over the next four days his conditioned worsened until he passed away on Sunday. Hilliard and his wife, Patsy Jo, have four children.
On Tuesday, ASCAC conducted a ritual in the Valley of the Kings for Hilliard —who was the organization’s first international vice president. It was at the tomb of Thutmose IV, who was the eighth pharaoh during the 18th Egyptian dynasty.
“We did a libation, a ritual for him of ancestor return in the Valley of the Kings,” says Carr, in a telephone interview from Luxor. “In that ritual we noted that Asa Hilliard was in so many ways the founder of the modern African-centered education movement. He believed in the natural genius of African children and he believed in the purpose and function of education as it relates to developing our people. We like to refer to him in ASCAC as our Ptah-Hotep because in so many ways he was our wise instructor.”
Asa G. Hilliard, III