Newman, Richard (Alan) 1930-2003

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NEWMAN, Richard (Alan) 1930-2003


See index for CA sketch: Born March 30, 1930, in Watertown, NY; died of a brain tumor July 7, 2003, in Boston, MA. Educator, editor, minister, and author. Newman was an authority on African-American history and culture. Originally studying for the ministry, he completed a bachelor's degree at Maryville College in 1952 and earned his M.A. in divinity at Union Theological Seminary in 1955, the same year he was ordained in the Presbyterian Church. He began work as a minister for the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Syracuse, New York, during the late 1950s, followed by a position at Vassar College as an instructor in religion. A meeting with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., when Newman was twenty-five years old shaped the remainder of his life; from that point on he vowed not only to work on behalf of civil rights but to do whatever he could to help blacks in everything from education to employment. Attending graduate school at Syracuse University and Harvard University, he became chair of the department of social sciences at Boston University from 1964 to 1973. He then embarked on an editing career, first at G. K. Hall from 1973 to 1979, then as executive editor at Garland Publishing from 1978 to 1981, and finally as manager of publications at the New York Public Library from 1981 to 1992. In 1992 he was appointed director of research at Harvard University's black studies program, where he also became managing editor of The Harvard Guide to African-American History. Newman was famous for his encyclopedic knowledge of all things African American, and gave generously of his time to advise students and colleagues on the subject. In response to those who asked why he, a white man, chose to study African Americans, he responded that he did not, for example, have to be a woman living in sixteenth-century England to study Queen Elizabeth I. Newman wrote extensively about his specialty in such books as Black Power and Black Religion: Essays and Reviews (1987), Words like Freedom: Essays on African-American Culture and History (1996), and African-American Quotations (1998), in addition to editing or contributing to numerous other publications.



Boston Globe, July 8, 2003, p. B8.

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Newman, Richard (Alan) 1930-2003

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