'Father of Black Studies' passes away at 91

A San Francisco legend who was known as the "Father of Black Studies" passed away on Monday. Dr. Nathan Hare started the first Black Studies program in the United States at San Francisco State University back in the 1960s.

Hare was a man ahead of his time and leaves behind a legacy of empowering Black people all over the country.

Hare died on Monday at 91 years old. 

He was an activist, sociologist, and psychologist who led student and faculty protests alongside the Black Panthers and the Black Student Union on San Francisco State’s campus back in 1968, paving the way for the Black Studies program that was replicated all over the country.

It was a tumultuous time during the civil rights movement in 1968. KTVU archival news clips show white and Black students alike on strike at San Francisco State University’s campus.

The Black Student Union was demanding more Black student admissions, more Black faculty and staff, and more Black education.

Hare came from Howard University in DC and was involved with the Black Power movement. 

He was eventually hired to create the first Black studies program in the United States at SFSU. 

In a video found in SF State’s archive, Hare was interviewed by Channel 5 in 1968, when he said, "We are trying to start a Black studies program at state college and I think it has the greatest and last hope to solve the educational problems of the Black race in this country."

The program still exists today at SFSU, now called Africana Studies.

Sharon Jones, now a professor at San Francisco State in the Department of Africana Studies, was a student during the protests. 

She is seen in a photo next to Hare on the first day of the strikes, when she was just 17 years old. 

Jones said his work paved the way for students like her to attend college and advance their careers.

"I’m here because of Dr. Hare. I'm here because of what we did 50 years ago. I would have never dreamed that I would be a professor today," she said.

The Black Studies program Hare developed offered students a more inclusive history.

"If it wasn't for Black history, there would be no history," said Jones.

Dr. Abul Pitre, the Chair of Africana Studies, said he sits in the seat created by Hare. 

"Pretty much everything was viewed from a European perspective or a Eurocentric perspective [in the 1960’s], and what Black Studies did is it gave a different critique of American society," Pitre said.

It was only a year before Hare was let go from the university, but he went on to write books and develop the Black Think Tank with his wife, Julia. 

He continued to promote the wellness of Black folks through clinical psychology before he passed away on Monday at 91 years old.

The program at SF State was renamed Africana Studies in 2005, and it was replicated at universities and colleges all over the country.

"His work is actually immeasurable in the sense that it will continue to impact many generations that are not seen right now," said Pitre.

Those who knew him said it’s not a coincidence Hare passed away so close to Juneteenth, because he stood for freedom, empowering the next generation of Black students.

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.


Oakland puts new focus on Black Panther Party history with two weekend events

The Black Panther Party's logo is now painted across a building at 1427 Broadway, the home of the Dr. Huey Newton Foundation's new Center for Research and Action.