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DRIMMER, MELVIN

DRIMMER, MELVIN (2 Nov. 1934-17 June 1992), educator, author and civil rights activist, was a Jew who pioneered African American history courses at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA (1963-72), and taught African American and African History at CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY (1972-92). He made 21 trips to Africa as director of the American Forum for International Study and focused on relations between AFRICAN AMERICANS and Jews (see JEWS AND JUDAISM). Drimmer was born in New York City to Oscar and Nettie (Natille) Drimmer. He graduated from the City College of New York (Phi Beta Kappa), attended Oxford University, and received his doctorate in history from the University of Rochester, NY (1965). He began his career at Hunter College in New York City and served as visiting professor at other institutions, such as New York University and Dillard University, New Orleans, LA.

Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr., Drimmer believed in acting on his beliefs: he was once jailed in an Atlanta civil rights demonstration. He unsuccessfully sought to enter politics, losing both a Congressional seat in the 19th District (1982) and a seat on the Cleveland Board of Education (1985, see CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS). In 1985, Drimmer married Lillian Boehmer; they had 2 children, Alan Stessin and Barbara.