In Memoriam: John T. McCartney (1938-2012)

John T. McCartney, longtime professor of government and law and former chair of the Africana studies program at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, has died. He was 73 years old.

Professor McCartney joined the Lafayette College faculty in 1986. He was promoted to associate professor in 1992 and to full professor in 2002. He served as chair of the department of government and law from 1998 to 2007.

A native of the Bahamas, he once ran for the country’s parliament. Before coming to Lafayette College, he taught at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He was the author of the book Black Power Ideologies: An Essay in African American Thought (Temple University Press, 1992).

Professor McCartney was a graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He held a master’s degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy and a Ph.D. in political history from the University of Iowa.

Following is a video of Professor McCartney discussing his teaching at Lafayette College.

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  1. He was a good, well-respected man. I was fortunate to have had him as my first boss here at Lafayette. After I moved on to a f/t position, he always went out of his way to say hello with a smile and ask how I was when I saw him on campus. He will be missed.
    Rest in Peace, Prof John McCartney

  2. He was the most intelligent and challenging professors I have ever had. He made you want to learn more. Words can’t express the size of the influence he has had on the Lafayette community. Rest in peace.

  3. Very sad news. I did not know Dr. McCartney but had a chance to meet him and see him in action at the fabulous Paul Robeson Conference held at Lafayette about 6 years ago.

  4. I was lucky to know John as a friend and colleague across the hall for 26 years. We talked about politics a hundred times. He was unceasingly committed to the life of the mind and “the Socratic dialectic.” He had an expansive knowledge of black history in the U.S., Africa, and the Caribbean. Recently a job candidate had a superficial understanding of C.L.R. James. This was a mistake when John McCartney was there. As he would say about many others, he was “a good man.”

  5. I was fortunate enough to have had Dr. McCartney as an adjunct professor at Northampton Community College in 2004. I was one of maybe two people who paid attention to his lectures and did the assignments. I don’t know how such a brilliant mind dealt with such apathy towards learning. I just picked up my text, Black Power Ideologies, to revisit in these dark times for race. Revisiting Dr. McCartney’s ability to make digestible dense subject matter has also been a treat. I googled him to reach out to let him know that he had an impact on someone I’m sure he wouldn’t remember only to find he died 6 years ago. Now, I’m sad.

  6. I was fortunate to have taken several of Dr. McCartney’s classes at Lafayette, and that he was my thesis advisor senior year. He was a kind man and excellent professor. R.I.P.

  7. Professor McCartney was a tremendous influence on so many of us Black students in the early 1990s. He pushed his students to a high level and was no nonsense. We learned SO MUCH from him, in his inimitable style. He is missed and will be loved by those of us who were blessed to have him as a professor.

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