April 24, 2019
It is with great sadness that the Center mourns Martin Kilson. He was the Frank G. Thomson Professor of Government from 1988 till his retirement in 1999. Since many current colleagues did not know him, I offer a brief biography here. Professor Kilson was born in 1931, graduated from Lincoln University, and received his PhD. From Harvard in 1959. After Ford Foundation-supported research in West Africa, he became a Lecturer in Government in 1962 an Assistant Professor in 1967, and Professor of Government in 1969. He was the first black academic to be appointed a full professor at Harvard. Professor Kilson was the faculty advisor for the newly founded Harvard-Radcliffe Afro-American Students Association during the 1960s. He was instrumental in the development of African American studies both as an academic discipline and as a department at Harvard University. Professor Kilson received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1975. Among his many articles and books, Professor Kilson was probably best known for Political Change in a West African State (Harvard U Press, 1966). After giving the annual W.E.B. DuBois lectures in 2010, he published The Transformation of the African American Intelligentsia, 1880-2012, in 2014.
Our hearts go out to his close friends and family.
- Harvard Center for African Studies