Jacob Hudson Carruthers, Jr.


Jedi Shemsu Jehewty,

February 15, 1930 – January 4, 2004

On Sunday, January 4, 2004, Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers, one of the great African American scholars, historians, researchers, and educators died at home in Chicago, Illinois after a long illness. He was a professor of history and education at the Center for Inner City Studies of Northeastern Illinois University for thirty-two years. Professor Carruthers’s leadership pioneered the development of both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Inner City Studies, which influenced the development of hundreds of students who sought careers working in the urban environment of the inner city. He contributed to the development of the Inner City Studies academic discipline in the United States, and he fostered the Chicago School of African-Centered Thought that manifested itself in the community-based Communiversity.

Dr. Carruthers established himself through his work with leading African and African American scholars in the world through his leadership in the development of a plan to rewrite African history under the aegis of the African World History Project of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC). These scholars include the late John Henrik Clarke, Cheikh Anta Diop, John G. Jackson, Chancellor Williams, Charysee McIntyre, and Bobby E. Wright. Contemporaries include Anderson Thompson, Asa Hilliard, Leonard Jefferies, Chinweizu, Theophile Obenga, Yosef ben-Jochannan, Ayi Kwei Armah, Kobi Kambon, and Marimba Ani.

Dr. Carruthers authored several important books that paved the way and provided the framework for the African-centered approach to the research and study of Classical African history and African civilization. His works include: Intellectual Warfare (1999), Mdw Ntr (1995), Essays in Ancient Egyptian Studies (1984), and The Irritated Genie (1985). Other significant works include Science and Oppression (1972) and African or American (1994). He co-edited Reconstructing Kemetic Culture (1990), The African Worldview (1986), and The Preliminary Challenge (1997). Many of his works challenged the prevailing ideas in the field of Egyptology as well as the role of African people in the development of civilization in the ancient Nile Valley.

Jacob Carruthers excelled academically. Following graduation from Phillis Wheatley High School in Houston, Texas, he attended Samuel Huston College in Austin where he earned a bachelor’s degree. After the Sweatt vs. Painter United States Supreme Court decision in 1950, he along with Hemon Marion Sweatt and three other blacks integrated the University of Texas Law School. Jurisprudence, however, was not his calling, and he did not return the following year. In 1951, facing the draft and the Korean War, he volunteered for the United States Air Force. After serving in the Air Force, he enrolled in Texas Southern University where he earned a master’s degree in government.

His passion for learning and a sense of service led him back to the classroom. From ’61 to ’64, Dr. Carruthers taught at Prairie View College in Texas. After earning a doctorate in political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder—the first African American to do so—he taught at Kansas State College in Pittsburg, Kansas for two years. Thereafter, his career led him to Chicago, and in 1968, he joined the faculty of the Department of Inner City Studies Education at the Center of Inner City Studies of Northeastern Illinois University. Serving as a consultant on African-centered education to the Chicago Public Schools and other school systems throughout the United States, Dr. Carruthers was influential in the African-centered education movement. He was a co-founder of the teacher training program, Teaching About Africa. He was also sought after nationally and internationally as a lecturer on African history. In 1981, Dr. Carruthers became the High Priest of the Temple of the African Community of Chicago that was established to meet the spiritual needs of those who sought to practice ancient Nile Valley spirituality. He was a founding member of the Kemetic Institute and ASCAC. In 1995, Dr. Carruthers was initiated into elderhood in a community ritual at which time he took the name Jedi Shemsu Jehewty (the one who speaks is a follower of Jehewty).

Dr. Carruthers leaves behind a wife, Linda (Ifé); three sons, Jacob III, Darnell, and Christopher; a daughter, Tawakalitu Jogunosimi; a niece, Margaret Lee (Georges), who he considered a daughter; two grandchildren, Jacqueline and Jacob IV; two great grandchildren, Lynon and Makala; a sister, Carol Lee (Charles); two brothers, Riley and Andrew (Willie); and a host of nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, January 8th from 12 noon to 8 p.m. at Cage Memorial Chapel, 7651 S. Jeffery Blvd. Services will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, January 9th at St. James United Methodist Church, 4611 S. Ellis. In lieu of flowers, you may send your donation to the Temple of the African Community of Chicago, 4330 S. Vernon, Chicago, Illinois 60653.

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