Martin Kilson, professor emeritus at Harvard University, died at a hospice facility of congestive heart failure on April 24, 2019. He was 88 years old.
Dr. Kilson first joined the faculty at Harvard in 1962 as a lecturer in government. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1967 and professor of government in 1969, making him the first Black full professor at Harvard. During the 1960s, he served as the faculty advisor for the Harvard-Radcliffe Afro-American Students Association. He was also instrumental in developing African American studies as both an academic discipline and department at Harvard. He served as the Frank G. Thomson Professor of Government from 1988 until his retirement in 1999.
Dr. Kilson was the author or editor of several books, including Political Change in a West African State (Harvard University Press, 1966) and The Transformation of the African American Intelligentsia, 1880-2012 (Harvard University Press, 2014). He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
As an undergraduate, Dr. Kilson was valedictorian of his graduating class at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He went on to earn Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University.