The field of psychology lost one of its preeminent African-American scholars in the person of Asa G. Hilliard, III, EdD.
Dr. Hilliard was a founding member of both the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations and the National Black Child Development Institute. He served as the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University, Dr. Hilliard was a prolific writer, co-developer of educational television programming, and an expert federal witness.
Dr. Hilliard was born in Galveston, Texas in August 22, 1933. He attended high school in Texas, then went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He taught in the Denver Public School system for five years, and returned to University of Denver as a teaching fellow until 1963. During this time, Hilliard earned his master’s degree in Counseling, and a doctorate in Educational Psychology.
In 1963, Dr. Hilliard joined the faculty at San Francisco State University. There he became Department Chairperson, and served as Dean of Education for his final eight years. He also worked as a consultant to the Peace Corps, and acted as Superintendent of Schools in Monrovia, Liberia.
After 18 years at San Francisco State, Hilliard moved on to Georgia State University. As Callaway Professor, he taught in both the Educational Policy Studies and Educational Psychology and Special Education Departments.
Dr. Hilliard wrote more than two hundred research reports, articles and books on a wide variety of topics, including ancient African history, teaching strategies, and public policy. He co-developed the educational television series, Free Your Mind, Return to the Source: African Origins. Dr. Hilliard also served as a consultant to government agencies, school districts, advocacy organizations, corporations, universities and school districts on developing public policy, teacher training and curricula. Several of these have become national models.
In several federal cases, Dr. Hilliard served as an expert witness regarding testing bias and validity. He was the principal architect and lead witness in the United States Court of Appeals case of Larry P. v. Riles in 1984. The landmark class action suit challenged the disproportionate placement of minorities in classes for the educable mentally retarded in California. Hilliard testified to the racial bias that resulted when intelligence tests were used as the sole basis for placement.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Hilliard has earned the Outstanding Scholarship Award from the Association of Black Psychologists, a Knight Commander of the Human Order of the African Redemption and the Distinguished Leadership Award from the Association of Teachers of Education.
Hilliard continued a legacy of education and activism began by his grandfather, Asa G. Hilliard, Senior. The senior Hilliard was a son of slaves who went on to become a prominent leader in the field of education and champion for the improvement of race relations. Asa G. Hilliard, III, has done his grandfather proud and made a considerable impact on education, and understanding and advancement of African culture.
Dr. Hilliard died at 73, due to complications related to malaria. At the time, he was in Cairo, Egypt, where he regularly conducts tours to demonstrate the connection between Egypt, the rest of Africa, and the rest of world. Dr. Hilliard is survived by his wife, Patsy Jo, and their four children.