Jacob Hudson Carruthers Jr. (1930-2004)

Jacob Carruthers Jr. (The H30 Art of Life)
Jacob Carruthers Jr. (The H30 Art of Life)

Jacob Hudson Carruthers Jr. was a historian and educator. Carruthers was born on February 15, 1930, to unnamed parents in Dallas, Texas. The family relocated to Houston, Texas, where he attended Phyllis Wheatley High School. After graduating high school, he attended Samuel Huston College in Austin, Texas, receiving his B.A. from that institution in 1950. In 1951, Carruthers volunteered for the United States Air Force (USAF) after facing the draft in the Korean War.

After serving in the USAF, Carruthers enrolled at Texas Southern University, where he would receive an M.A. in Government in 1958. Carruthers taught at Prairie View College (Prairie View A&M University) in Prairie View, Texas, from 1961 to 1964 and then received his Ph.D. in Political Studies from the University of Colorado in 1966, becoming the first Black student to receive a doctorate in that field from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Carruthers then taught at Kansas State College in Pittsburg, Kansas, for two years before joining the Department of Inner City Studies Education (ICSE) facility at the Center for Inner City Studies of Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) in 1968. Carruthers was a professor of history and education at the Center of Inner City Studies of NEIU for thirty-two years.

Carruthers led the development of both undergraduate and graduate degrees in ICSE. His work influenced the development of hundreds of students who sought careers working in inner city urban environments across the United States. He also shaped the development of the ICSE academic discipline in the United States and fostered the Chicago School of African-Centered Thought. In 1975, Carruthers had the opportunity to visit Senegalese historian Cheikh Anta Diop where he was impressed by Diop’s knowledge and understanding of the history of ancient Egypt and its role in the development of civilization throughout the rest of Africa.

In 1984, Carruthers founded the African World History Project of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC) alongside John Henrik Clark, Asa Grant Hilliard, Leonard Jefferies, Yosef Ben-Jochannan, and Maulana Karenga at the First Annual Ancient Egyptian Studies Conference in Los Angeles, California. At this conference, Carruthers was elected as the organization’s first president.

Carruthers also authored many books during his academic career that provided the framework for the African-centered approach to researching and studying classical African history and African civilization. During his career, Carruthers authored numerous books, including The Irritated Genie: An Essay on the Haitian Revolution (1984), MDW NTR: Diving Speech (1995), and Intellectual Welfare (1999).

Carruthers’ research challenged the prevailing ideas in Egyptology and promoted the heretofore ignored role of other African people in developing a culture in the ancient Nile Valley.

On January 4, 2004, Jacob Hudson Carruthers Jr. died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 73 in Chicago, Illinois. Carruthers was married to Mama Ife Carruthers, and the couple had three children together.

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