Hare, Nathan 1934–
Nathan Hare 1934–
Sociologist, psychologist, political activist
In his more than 40 years as a black activist, Dr. Nathan Hare has used his professional skills to fight for social change. During the 1960s he led the student protest movement at Howard University in Washington, D.C. At San Francisco State College he was the nation’s first coordinator of a black studies program. Following his now-historic confrontation with S. I. Hayakawa, Hare founded The Black Scholar, an academic journal devoted to new insights and novel solutions to problems facing black Americans. Hare and his wife Julia are the cofounders of the Black Think Tank in San Francisco.
Born on April 9, 1934, in Slick, Oklahoma, Hare was one of five siblings whose grandparents were slaves. After spending his first years with an aunt in Oklahoma City, he returned to the family farm near Slick, where his father was a sharecropper and tenant farmer. Hare told Contemporary Black Biography (CBB): “It was a hardworking, largely barebones existence, but not altogether an unhappy life.” His father disappeared when he was nine, with “all good reason for doing so.” Hare moved to San Diego, California, with his mother, who worked clearing airplanes on the nearby Navy base.
Hare always believed that he would make a better life for himself, perhaps as a wealthy farmer. At the age of 12, while living in San Diego projects, he decided to become either a novelist or a professional boxer. He knocked out a bigger boy in an impromptu boxing match and began reading a new novel almost every day. Soon the family returned to Oklahoma, where his mother purchased the family farm with savings from her work for the Navy. As the family’s only male, Hare worked hard on the farm. Without books or electricity he limited his reading to save his eyesight for boxing.
Hare had always done poorly in school, but he won several academic prizes as a high school senior. He came home after graduation to find his trunk packed and the local preacher preparing to take him to Langston University, a historically black college in Langston, Oklahoma. Figuring that he couldn’t box professionally until age 19 anyway, Hare agreed to go.
At a Glance…
Born on April 9, 1934, in Slick, OK; son of Seddie Henry Hare and Tishia Lee Davis Hare; married Julia Reed, December 27, 1956. Education: Langston University, AB, 1954; University of Chicago, MA, 1957, PhD, 1962; California School of Professional Psychology, PhD, 1975. Military Service: U.S. Army Reserve, 1958-64; active duty, 1958.
Career: Virginia State College, sociology instructor, 1957-58; Howard University, Washington, DC, instructor, 1961-63, assistant professor, 1964-67; San Francisco State College, director of black studies and director of Center for Educational Innovation, 1968; Black Scholar, founding publisher, 1969-75; Lone Mountain College, visiting professor, 1972-73; Child Development Services, Oakland, CA, clinical psychologist, 1975-78; Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Family Guidance Clinic, Oakland, CA, psychologist, 1977; psychologist in private practice, 1977-; Black Think Tank, founder, board chairman, and CEO, 1979-; San Francisco State University, lecturer, 1984-88.
Selected memberships: American Association of University Professors; Black World Foundation; African People’s Party; American Sociological Association; Association of Black Sociologists.
Selected awards: Southern Regional Education Council, Community Psychology Award, 1978; National Council of Black Studies, national award “for distinguished scholarly contributions to black studies,” 1984; Institute of Pan African Studies, Marcus and Amy Garvey Award, 1990; Nation of Islam, University of Islam, Educator of the Year (with Julia Hare), 1992; Association of Black Sociologists, Joseph Himes Award for lifetime scholarly contributions to sociology, 2002.
Addresses: Office— The Black Think Tank, 1801 Bush St., Suite 118, San Francisco, CA 94109.
During his senior year at Langston University the Oklahoma Golden Gloves boxing competition opened to blacks. Hare made the state semifinals, where he lost in a split decision. His future wife, Julia Reed, and the threat of being drafted to fight in the Korean War convinced Hare to stay in college until graduation in 1954.
A Danforth fellowship enabled Hare to complete his master’s degree at the University of Chicago in 1957. Following a year as a sociology instructor at Virginia State College and a year of active military service, Hare studied at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He earned his doctoral degree in sociology in 1962 from the University of Chicago with a dissertation entitled The Changing Occupational Status of the Negro in the United States.
Hare told CBB that he rejected the opportunity “to become ‘the first and only fulltime Negro’ on the faculty of Colorado State University at Fort Collins” to accept a much lower salary at Howard, a historically black university in the nation’s capital. At the same time, he had four professional boxing matches in 1962 and 1963. When he returned to the ring again, he was told by the Howard dean to “choose between teaching and boxing.”
Hare and his students, including Stokely Carmichael and other future radical leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), actively opposed the Vietnam War and promoted black power. Hare told CBB that their “Black University Manifesto” called for “the overthrow of the Negro college with white innards and to raise in its place a black university relevant to the black community and its needs.” When Hare invited Muhammad Ali to speak on campus, the administration padlocked the auditorium and Ali’s impromptu speech on the steps of a campus building garnered wide publicity. The administration’s harassment of Hare intensified and, despite being named “favorite professor” for two consecutive years, he was fired in 1967.
Hare returned to boxing for one match, which he won by a knockout in the first round. The fight was featured in magazine articles and included in “Color Us Black,” a 1968 television documentary on the Howard uprising.
In 1968, at San Francisco State College, Hare became the country’s first coordinator of a black studies program. In addition to black history, psychology, and arts and humanities, the core curriculum included black math and science. Hare insisted that the program be controlled by the black community. The resulting conflict culminated in a five-month-long student strike and Hare’s firing.
Hare’s first book, The Black Anglo-Saxons, criticized the black middle-class for assimilating into white society and culture and abandoning traditional black values. He founded The Black Scholar, a “Journal of Black Studies and Research,” in 1969 and wrote its editorials. Professor Frank Wilson told the San Francisco Sun Reporter that the journal “not only elevated black scholarship, but provided a vehicle for international scholars to analyze and debate such issues as the role of the intellectual, Pan Africanism, the Third World, Marxism, the Black Church and many other themes and topics.”
In his 1972 essay “The Challenge of a Black Scholar,” Hare wrote that “black scholars will provide the catalysts not only for black liberation but perhaps for the ultimate resolution of America’s pathology now infecting, in some form or fashion, the entire world…. [T]he black scholar’s main task is to cleanse his mind—and the minds of his people—of the white colonial attitudes toward scholarship and people as well. This includes the icons of objectivity, amoral knowledge and its methodology, and the total demolition of the anti-social attitudes of Ivory-Towerism.” In 1974 Hare co-edited Pan-Africanism, a collection of essays addressing the need for post-colonial Africa to return to traditional communalism and black values.
In 1975 Hare earned a second Ph.D. from the California School of Professional Psychology and became a clinical psychologist. In 1984 he returned to San Francisco State as a lecturer. In 1990 Hare was the United Negro College Fund’s distinguished scholar-at large at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee.
Hare has written extensively on sociological and psychological issues affecting the black community. In “Crazy with the Heat,” Hare argued that American blacks suffer from collective psychic trauma stemming from slavery, persecution, and discrimination. Hare has been a contributing editor to the Journal of Black Studies, Ebony, the Journal of Black Education, and the Black Law Journal. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, magazines, and newspapers.
In 1979 Hare and his wife, Dr. Julia Hare, founded the Black Think Tank, a publisher of books, reports, and monographs. For a time it also published a journal, Black Male/Female Relationships. In 1983, in a national survey of black sociologists, Nathan Hare was voted one of the 15 leading black sociologists of all time.
The Hares are widely quoted in the black press, as experts on rebuilding strong black families, male-female relationships, and child-rearing. In the first of their Hare Reports, published regularly by the Black Think Tank, Nathan and Julia Hare criticized the public schools, calling for more discipline, teaching of respect, and the recruitment of black male teachers. They argued that the term “multicultural” should not be used when referring to blacks. Among their proposals were the establishment of supplemental schools to teach black culture and values. Nathan Hare told the Sun Reporter in 1999, “Black teachers in public schools are often handcuffed by the system. They cannot teach the way they want to or be independent.”
In their December 2001 report, “State of Black Race,” the Hares called upon the black community to “scrutinize some of the categories that have made other ethnic groups strong…. They pool their resources, shop with one another, develop and build their own business communities. They… may be said to integrate but not assimilate, while we seek both integration and assimilation and wind up with assimilation without integration, let alone elevation and empowerment.” The Hares advocated reparations for slavery, or at least a “whopping low-interest loan for Afro-America, like other peoples claiming to be a nation are given.” Blacks must promote their own leaders: “We have been devastated more than any other group by athletes and entertainers speaking for the race.”
The Hares also argued that black churches should always be open for meetings and should sponsor professionals to educate their communities. Therapists, self-help groups, and love or “Kupenda” groups are needed to reinforce black male/female and family relationships. The National Bar Association should fight the discriminatory incarceration of blacks, and black sociologists should prevent the removal of black children from their homes and communities. They called on black male groups to tutor and mentor children and on black fraternities and sororities to contribute money. They also proposed academic competitions and leagues similar to those for athletics.
Nathan Hare promotes unity among all African Americans, calling on middle-class blacks to abandon their overly materialistic pursuits. He has accused both the white-dominated feminist movement and the abortion-rights movement of using poor black women to promote their own social agendas.
Hare is on the State of Black Education’s steering committee and on the board of the Recovery Theater. He conducts a “Black Reconstruction” therapy group and promotes a social movement based on such self-help peer groups.
In 2002 Hare received the Joseph S. Himes Award for Distinguished Scholarship, the highest award given by the Association of Black Sociologists. According to the Sun Reporter, professor Doris Wilkinson called Hare “one of the most prolific writers among sociologists” who, “with a creative imagination, has offered new ways of examining the status of race relations in contemporary America.” Professor Rutledge Dennis of George Mason University called Hare “a model for the scholar activist, just as he has been the quintessential public intellectual.”
The Black Anglo-Saxons, Marzani & Munsell, 1965; Third World Press, 1991.
“The Challenge of a Black Scholar,” Black Writers of America, Macmillan, 1972.
(Editor, with Robert Chrisman) Contemporary Black Thought, Bobbs-Merrill, 1973.
(Editor, with Chrisman) Pan-Africanism, Bobbs-Merrill, 1974.
(With Julia Hare) The Endangered Black Family, Black Think Tank, 1984.
(With Julia Hare) Bringing the Black Boy to Manhood, Black Think Tank, 1985.
(Editor, with Julia Hare) Crisis in Black Sexual Politics, Black Think Tank, 1989.
(With Julia Hare) The Hare Plan to Overhaul the Public Schools and Educate Every Black Man, Woman, and Child, Black Think Tank, 1991.
(With Mabel B. Little and Julia Hare) Fire on Mount Zion, Black Think Tank, 1992.
“Crazy with the Heat,” MultiAmerica: Essays on Cultural Wars and Cultural Peace, Viking, 1997.
“Behind the Black College Student Revolt,” Ebony, August 1967.
“Questions and Answers about Black Studies,” Massachusetts Review, 1969, pp. 727-737.
“Is the Black Middle Class Blowing It?… Yes!” Ebony, August 1987, pp. 85-86.
(With Julia Hare) “The Clarence Thomas Hearings,” Black Scholar, Winter 1991.
(With Julia Hare) “African-American Male/Female Relationships,” Black Collegian, March/April 1992, pp. 111-114.
(With Julia Hare) “The Hare Report: What Black America Should Do Next,” New Journal & Guide (Norfolk, VA), February 27, 2002, March 6, 2002.
(With Julia Hare) “The Hare Report: State of Black Race,” The Drum Beat, http://tiglao.com/bbsl077.mv?parm_func=showmsg+parm_msgnum=1000463 (April 7, 2004).
Crisis, March 1986, pp. 30-35, 45.
Ebony, September 1994, pp. 30, 141; February, 2000.
Esquire, January 1973, p. 136.
Sun Reporter (San Francisco), December 30, 1999, p. 1; September 5, 2002, p. 1.
Additional information for this profile was obtained through correspondence with Nathan Hare in February 2004.
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