In Memoriam: James Lee Conyers Jr., 1961-2021

James Conyers, the longtime director of the University of Houston’s African American studies program, died on January 25. He was 59 years old.

Dr. Conyers, who began his career teaching at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, joined the faculty at the University of Houston in 2002. He was instrumental in shaping and building the University of Houston’s African American studies program.

“I am deeply saddened to announce that our beloved professor, scholar, author, and philanthropist James ‘Jim’ Conyers, director of the African American studies program, has passed away,” said Daniel P. O’Connor, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “While our community is mourning the loss, we have been blessed to know such an impactful activist and scholar. His commitment to racial justice and helping those in need, which he put into action by personally endowing the William Alexander Lawson Social Justice Scholarship for African American studies majors, will endure on our campus and in our community for generations to come.”

A native of Jersey City, New Jersey, Dr. Conyers earned a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Ramapo College in New Jersey. He held a master’s degree in Africana studies from the University at Albany of the State University of New York. Professor Conyers studied Kiswahili, the Swahili language, at Cornell University in 1991, and completed his Ph.D. in African American studies at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1992.

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  1. Such a loss for the University of Houston. I worked with him on undergraduate issues from the Dean’s Office,– he was so supportive of our students, truly an amazing person. I’ll miss him.

  2. Dr. James Conyers was a model educator. He deeply cared for his students. He was the heart and backbone of the African American Studies department at University of Houston. He worked diligently to make sure each of his students were successful. I am praying for his family and all those who loved and admired him.

  3. Working with Dr. Conyers at University of Houston was a pleasure. We always had great laughs and he will be deeply missed. Dr. Conyers has left some big shoes to fill at the University and in the community.

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