Kent State Professor Emeritus, Dr. Edward W. Crosby stepped off this mortal coil and into the land of the ancestors on February 10th, 2021. An important chapter in the history of Black Education is complete. He was known far and wide for his pioneering efforts in the field of Black Studies.
Dr. Crosby was born on the Eastside of Cleveland, Ohio on November 4, 1932 to Frederick D.
Crosby and Marion G. Naylor. From then on out “nothing was given, everything was earned.” Early on he fell under the spell of the church and wanted to be a priest, but soon grew disillusioned. He became disinterested in school as well and spent many a day playing hookie.
This disinterest in school continued until he met his future wife, Shirley R. Crosby, in a typing class together. This turned out to be advantageous when he was drafted into the Army. The fact he could type landed him a job in the SCARWAF Adjutant General’s Office. Between the forced discipline of the Army and the affection he had for Shirley he was honorably discharged in 2 years.
The G.I. Bill helped him return to Kent State to finish a notable career, both as a student, professor and an dministrator. Most of that time was spent in Kent, Ohio, where he received a B.A. and M.A. in Medieval German language and history. He obtained his doctorate degree at the University of Kansas (KU). His dissertation, on the “Travels of Sir John Mandeville” was entirely in German and 2 volumes long.
He taught German & Spanish at several colleges, including Kent, Hiram and Tuskegee, but is most noted for his work at Southern Illinois University, Kent State and the University of Washington where he worked primarily with Black students who oftentimes needed remediation to make them competitive in a collegiate environment. His years in East St. Louis were spent developing a curriculum for the Experiment in Higher Education (EHE), one of the first programs in the US designed specifically for underperforming students.
In 1969 he was offered a position at Kent State that gave him the freedom to develop a new department at Kent from the ground up. He took the job and was able to become instrumental in helping thousands of students graduate, earn advanced degrees, become successful in a number of fields while helping others.
Dr. Crosby retired from Kent, Ohio in 1994, but continued to be active in the field of Black Education. This time he struck off on his own when he founded the Ida B. Wells Community Academy (IBWCA). The Academy was one of the first charters schools in Ohio and definitely the first African-centered charter school in Akron. They started with only a few elementary classes and added new grades over the years. The middle school was operated at a second location for a few years, while the elementary school was open from 1999 – 2007. IBWCA finally closed due to the political climate surrounding charter schools, which negatively affected its primary funding source, the State of Ohio.
Three mottos that describe his efforts are “Each One Teach One,” “If you’re gonna do it, do it right” and “Blackness, not for a month, but for a lifetime.” During his 25 years at Kent he organized the world’s first Black History Month celebration and engaged in a number of other educational innovations, including curricular holism, the use of cable and closed circuit TV in the classroom and the use of desktop computers in the office and the classroom before any other departments at Kent and many other Black Studies departments nationwide.
The services will be livestreamed on 2/20/2021 at 10am EST from the Sommerville Funeral Home in Akron, Ohio. Due to COVID 19 restrictions in person attendance will be by invitation only. Survivors include his wife, Shirley R. Crosby of Kent, Ohio; sons Kofi Khemet, MEd. of Kent, Ohio; Darryl M.L. Crosby (Kelly) of Akron, Ohio; Elliott M. Crosby of Dover, Fl; his oldest brother Fred M. Crosby (Sweetie); four sisters-in-law Sandra (Kenny), Mary (Richard); Vera (Bobby) and Charlene (Bobby) as well as five grandchildren.