Edward W. Crosby
Four Decades of Educating African American Youth
dward W. Crosby was born on November 4, 1932, in Cleveland, Ohio. He was the fourth child and the second son born to Frederick Douglass and Marion Grace Naylor Crosby – Fred M., Elizabeth A. “Betty”, and Florence preceded him. After Edward's birth the Crosbys were presented with three additional sons – Robert H. “Bobby,” Richard D., and Kenneth A. “Kenny.” During Edward's early years, he attended Catholic parochial schools — Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and St. Edward's — and, as a young, devote Catholic, aspired to become a priest. While attending these schools, he was a straight "A" student. As life would dictate, however, he lost his direction. Without conferring with his parents, he became disenchanted with Catholicism, transferred out of St. Edward's in the eighth grade, just before graduation in 1948, and entered Cleveland's public schools. At this point, his educational career underwent a sharp downward spiral and he became an inveterate truant, his grades plummeted and he began to experience some quite serious juvenile delinquences ranging from muggings, breaking and entering, and drugs. Edward continued to show, nevertheless, that he might in time become a serious student and later evolve into a university professor and school administrator. His parents, especially his mother, never lost patience. Nor did they allow themselves to forget the promise of a secure future for their son. They continued, as parents always seem to do, to keep the faith.
After graduating from Cleveland's John Adams High School in 1951, Edward enrolled at Kent State University to major in pre-law and by joining the AFROTC to escape military service in Korea. After two quarters, because of poor grades and conduct unbecoming of an aspiring officer in the Air Force, he was forced to deregister from AFROTC and Kent State university, thus nullifying his "perfect" scheme to avoid the draft. In 1952 he was drafted into the U.S. Army's Corps of Engineers. After basic training at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax, Virginia, and advance training as a supply specialist for the Corps, he was shipped to Colliers End Camp in Hertfordshire, England. Where, as fortune would have it, he served in Headquarters Company, the 928th Engineer Aviation Group – SCARWAF (Special Category Army with Air Force) as the administrative assistant to the Judge Advocate General for all SCARWAF soldiers in Europe. During his service in England, he was selected to be the personal secretary for the base commander.
In 1954, while still in England, he applied for and received an early honorable discharge from the military. After having decided that he had matured enough to continue pursuing his educational development, he returned to Kent State University. But this time he would pursue becoming a high school teacher of German, a language he had studied in high school and had developed a great liking for. Before long, however, his career path shifted from teaching in high school to teaching on the college or university level. In 1956, Edward married his high school sweetheart Shirley G. Redding; they now have three sons: Kofi Khemet (aka Eduard Michael), Darryl M.L., and Elliott Malcolm.
Edward W. Crosby earned his BA and MA from Kent State in 1957 and 1959 in German and Spanish and earned his PhD at the University of Kansas in 1965 in Medieval German Languages and Literature and Medieval History. In 1957 he began teaching at Kent State and later, in 1958, at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. In 1962, while on a leave of absence from Hiram, he taught at Tuskegee Institute (now University) in Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. He returned to Hiram College a year later and served as the chair of the college's German Language section. In 1965 Dr. Crosby permanently changed his career from teaching German and Spanish to serving the social and educational needs of Africans in America. He resigned from Hiram and worked first as a volunteer and later as the associate director of Akron, Ohio's Summit County – Greater Akron Community Action Council (now the Akron Summit Community Action agency).
In 1966, after working in Akron for six months, he resigned and joined Southern Illinois University's "Experiment in Higher Education" based in East St. Louis. Here he joined forces with five of his class mates at Kent State — Lee A. Chatman, Donald M. Henderson, Carolyn Dorsey, Paul E. Welcher and Wiley Smith III. As the director of education at EHE, Crosby restructured the learning process and the curriculum of the last two years of high school and first two years of undergraduate education for 200 African (90 percent) and Euro-American (10 percent) students. This very successful program assured students scholarships after completing the program to continue their college careers at Southern Illinois University or any other college or university in the United States – two students studied at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, others at Stanford (1), SUNY at Oswego (3), Hiram College (6) and St. Louis University (1). While in East St. Louis, Dr. Crosby assisted in the implementation of the Danforth Foundation's Urban Scholars Fellowship Program, the national evaluation of UPWARD BOUND Programs and compensatory education programs for migrant and agricultural workers in SWAFCO (the Southwest Alabama Farmers Cooperative). He also worked on a national basis as a consultant with university faculty, administrators, parents, and students to speed the development of educational opportunity programs. Later he expanded his consultant work to include the establishment of African educational programs, i.e., Black Studies, in California, Oregon, Missouri, Ohio, and New York.
Dr. Crosby founded and served as the director of the Institute for African American Affairs for seven years, from 1969 to 1976. In 1976, the Institute petitioned the university for departmental status and became the Department of Pan-African Studies (DPAS); thus Dr. Crosby served for 18 years as the Department's first chair and created one of the two strongest Africana Studies programs in Ohio. The IAAA was retained as a community development and research institute. For all intents and purposes the Department was also touted as one of the premier Africana Studies departments in the United States, as will be demonstrated by the programmatics contained on this Web Site. The Department offered a multifaceted and holistic Africana Studies curriculum with a full service educational world view and a student-faculty-staff-friendly environment in its spacious programming facilities which controlled considerable programming space in two campus buildings.
Throughout her husband's teaching and administrative career, Shirley G. Redding Crosby, a 1955 graduate of Ohio University in Sociology, devoted her time and talents to raising her three sons and to the intellectual and cultural uplift of African youth in Hiram; Lawrence, Kansas; Tuskegee; E. St. Louis; Seattle and Kent. From 1978 to 1994, she volunteered her full-time professional services to the coordination of cultural programs for the Center of Pan-African Culture at Kent State University. Thus continuing an educational partnership with her husband that has lasted from 1958 to the present.
On January 1, 1994, after 25 years of academic and administrative service at Kent State University, Dr. Crosby retired becoming an Emeritus Chair and Professor of Pan-African Studies and Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literature.
As those who have known Dr. Crosby over the twenty-five years he spent at Kent State, it should not have been a surprise that he would not remain retired for long. For sure he did, after laying off for four years to recuperate from prostate cancer and a liver transplant, spring back into action in 1997-1998, when he joined with other educational activists in Akron, Ohio to seek authority to found a five-year continuing public charter school (Community School in Ohio): The Ida B. Wells Community Academy. Having fully described on this Web Site Dr. Crosby's successful first and second African American educational ventures, it is thought proper to introduce you, in brief, to his third attempt at bringing change to the education of African Americans in the United States on the elementary and primary school levels: The Ida B. Wells Community Academy. Since its founding in 1998, the Academy has enjoyed some success and in the process has expanded from an elementary school in one learning center to an educational institution comprised to not only an elementary school campus but also a middle school campus. At the start of it's sixth program year, the Academy began teaching Kindergarten thru the eighth grade.
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