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WILSON, CURTIS

WILSON, CURTIS (27 Feb. 1932 - 13 Dec. 1996) was a professor of history and the director of the black studies program at CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY for eighteen years, during which he oversaw the addition of many courses dealing with black history and culture to various departments at CSU.

Born in Northport, AL, he graduated from Tuscaloosa County Training School in 1949 as valedictorian, and won a scholarship to Stillman College. In 1952, he joined the Air Force and became a pilot. He was seriously injured in 1957 when his plane exploded on the runway, and was given a medical discharge. He came to Cleveland in 1959 and worked for the post office while earning his B.A. at WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY. He undertook graduate study at Kent State University and Carnegie Mellon University, where he completed his master's degree.

He began teaching in 1962 at HARRY E. DAVIS Junior High School, then was appointed chairman of Social Studies at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Junior High School. He provided in-service training in African American History for Cleveland schoolteachers, and taught college courses at a community college in Pittsburgh, at Carnegie Mellon University, and at Columbia University before joining the CSU history department in 1969. He was appointed head of the Black Studies Program in 1971. Wilson was deeply interested in the sociological, political, and cultural history of AFRICAN AMERICANS, and he developed courses on African American music and the history of JAZZ. He served as advisor for student organizations, including the Organization for African American Unity and the Vindicator newspaper. In 1988, CSU's Black Alumni Association established the Curtis Wilson Alumni Scholarship Fund. Even after he retired from CSU in 1989 he remained a popular lecturer on history and culture before returning to Alabama due to ill health.

Wilson was a member of the Advisory Council for the African-American Institute in New York City, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Council of Social Studies, and Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society. Married, he had four children: Charlotte, Sheila, Kenneth, and Keith. Mr. Wilson died at his home in Tuscaloosa, AL.