Robert Chrisman, co-founder and editor of the internationally acclaimed journal, “The Black Scholar,” died March 10 in San Francisco. He was 75.
Under Chrisman’s leadership, The Black Scholar – founded in 1969 by Chrisman and Nathan Hare – was a beacon of achievement and hope within the movement to create Black Studies departments and ultimately Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies departments.
He and TBS were in the forefront of struggles for recognition of Black Studies as a serious academic endeavor.
Though other publications are devoted to Black Studies, TBS has been unique in its dedication to making Black Studies relevant to the political dynamics of the Black world within and beyond the structures of academia.
Chrisman held an MA degree in Language Arts from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Michigan. He taught at the University of Michigan, Williams College, UC Berkeley, the University of Vermont and Wayne State University.
In 2005, he retired as professor and chair of the Black Studies Department at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
He published three volumes of poetry, “Children of the Empire”(1981), “Minor Casualties: New and Selected Poems “ (1993) and “Dirty Wars” (2012).
Other books include TBS anthologies, “Pan-Africanism” (1972), “Contemporary Black Thought” (1974) and “Court of Appeals: The Black Community Speaks out on the Racial and Sexual Politics of Clarence Thomas v. Anita Hill (1992).” In 2001, he co-edited with Laurence Goldstein the anthology, “Robert Hayden: Essays on the Poetry.”
“I know of no one who has worked harder than Robert Chrisman to actualize an intellectual vision,” said Robert Allen, activist, writer and professor of African-American Studies.
“In building TBS (Chrisman) demonstrated the power of the principles of self-determination and self-reliance. He built the journal not by relying on grants and funding from foundations and government agencies but by relying on the people we serve-teachers, students, community activists, writers and artists, librarians, academicians, and just plain working people-our subscribers.”