Georgia State University, specifically, the Urban Teacher Leadership Master’s Degree Program, lost a giant on August 13, 2007 when educator, psychologist and historian Asa G. Hilliard III died while leading a study tour in Egypt. Asa Hilliard was the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Urban Education. Some of his many accomplishments included: serving as Dean of School of Education at San Francisco State University, an expert witness in landmark federal cases on test validity, consultant to schools in Liberia, West Africa, VP and founding member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations. Dr. Hilliard taught for many years and exclusively in the UTL Master’s Degree Program and later, Ph.D. level seminars in the College of Education. Hilliard’s classes focused on understanding the reality of the power of teaching and schooling to produce either excellent achievement or failure.
Born in Galveston, TX on August 22, 1933 to Asa G. Hilliard II and Dr. Lois O. Williams, Dr. Hilliard graduated from Manual High School (1951) in Denver, CO. He received a B.A. from the University of Denver (1955) and taught in the Denver Public Schools before joining the U.S. Army, where he served as a First Lieutenant, platoon leader, and battalion executive officer in the Third Armored Infantry (1955-1957). He later received his M.A. in Counseling (1961) and Ed.D. in Educational Psychology (1963) from the University of Denver. In pursuit of his education, Dr. Hilliard worked in many occupations including as a teacher in the Denver Public Schools, as a railroad maintenance worker, and as a bartender, waiter and cook.
The professional career of Dr. Hilliard spans the globe. He was on the faculty at San Francisco State University; consultant to the Peace Corp in Liberia, West Africa; superintendent of schools in Monrovia, Liberia; and returned to San Francisco State as department chair and Dean of Education. At the time of his death, Dr. Hilliard was the Fuller E. Calloway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University in Atlanta where he held joint appointments in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education.
Dr. Hilliard was a Board Certified Forensic Examiner and Diplomat of both the American Board of Forensic Examiners and the American Board of Forensic Medicine. He served as lead expert witness in several landmark federal cases on test validity and bias, including Larry P. v. Wilson Riles in California, Mattie T. v. Holliday in Mississippi, Deborah P. v. Turlington in Florida, and also in two Supreme Court cases, Ayers v. Fordice in Mississippi, and Marino v. Ortiz in New York City. Dr. Hilliard has lectured at leading universities and other institutions throughout the world, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Geographic Society.
As a distinguished consultant, Dr. Hilliard has worked with many of the leading school districts, publishers, public advocacy organizations, universities, government agencies and private corporations on valid assessment, African content in curriculum, teacher training, and public policy. Several of his programs in pluralistic curriculum, assessment, and valid teaching have become national models. Dr. Hilliard designed the approach and selected the essays that appeared in The Portland Baseline Essays (Portland, OR) which represent the first time that a comprehensive global and longitudinal view of people of African ancestry has been presented in a curriculum.
In 2001, Dr. Hilliard was enstooled as Development Chief for Mankranso, Ghana and given the name Nana Baffour Amankwatia, II, which means "generous one." Dr. Hilliard spent more than thirty years leading study groups to Egypt and Ghana, as part of his mission of teaching the truth about the history of Africa and the African Diaspora. He co-chaired the First National Conference on the Infusion of African and African- American Content in the School Curriculum in Atlanta. Dr. Hilliard was a founding member and First Vice President of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations and a founding member of the National Black Child Development Institute. Dr. Hilliard was also a key advisor for the African Education for Every African Child Conference, held in Mali and sponsored by the government of Mali.
Dr. Hilliard has authored more than a thousand publications including journal articles, magazine articles, special reports, chapters in books, and books. Some of his publications include The Maroon Within Us: Selected Essays on African American Community Socialization (Black Classic Press 1995); SBA: The Reawakening of the African Mind (Makare Publishing 1997), and African Power: Affirming African Indigenous Socialization in the Face of the Cultural Wars (Makare Publishing, 2002), to name a few. Also, he has received hundreds of awards and recognitions from many prestigious organizations and institutions including the Morehouse College "Candle in the Dark Award in Education," National Alliance of Black School Educators "Distinguished Educator Award," American Evaluation Association, President's Award, and the Republic of Liberia Award as Knight Commander of the Humane Order of African Redemption.
"We do not know who we are, cannot explain how we got here, and have no sense of our destiny beyond mere survival. Most of us hope to hitch a ride on someone else's wagon with no thought whatsoever as to where that wagon may be going. We have no destination of our own. Ask our leadership, ask our women, men or children on the street what our agenda is. Ask them what plans Africans have and what we want to build for ourselves within the next five, ten, twenty-five, seventy-five or one-hundred years? We are so used to having others make long-term plans for us that the idea of our own five-year plan is petrifying to us."
-Asa G. Hillard, III