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First black faculty member joins Kent State

Posted by [email protected] on March 3, 2014 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)


Dr. Oscar Rite was the first African American to become a faculty member in the Ohio university system in 1947. He served as a KSU faculty member for 21 years in the department of Sociology, where his area of interest was criminology and juvenile delinquency.

Ritchie was a published author and worked as a visiting professor at Ohio State University, the University of Vermont and South Carolina State College. He was also a member of the Ohio Advisory Committee to the U.S Commission on Civil Rights. The U.S Commission on Civil Rights was formed as a result of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and was charged with the responsibility of investigating discrimination, the denial of fair protection under federal laws pertaining to issues of race, sex, religion, handicap, or national origins.

Ritchie came from a modest background as the son of a lunch stand operator in Hallandale, Fla. While attending law classes part-time in Cleveland and later transferring to Kent State University, Ritchie took positions as a band musician, house boy, chauffeur, theater porter, day laborer, and bricklayer to finance his way through college. During the 1940s he received a bachelor's degree from Kent State (with distinction) and shortly after received an M.A while teaching. Nearly, eleven-years later, Ritchie graduated with a doctorate from New York University in 1958.

Dr. Ritchie died at the age of 58 in 1967, in the Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna, Ohio. After his death, many Kent State students demanded a building in his honor. Five years later, the Student Union building was renamed Oscar Ritchie Hall and is now home to the Department of Pan African Studies.