June 8, 2016
Dear Members of our Campus Community,
I am deeply saddened to share with you the news that our colleague and friend Professor Cedric James Robinson passed away on the morning of June 5th. My wife, Dilling, and I were able to visit with his wife, Elizabeth, at their home later that day and offer our condolences in person.
A community and political activist, Professor Robinson joined UC Santa Barbara in 1978, becoming the Director of our Center for Black Studies Research and a faculty member in our Department of Political Science, where he served as Chair from 1987 to 1990. In the mid-1990s, he moved to our Department of Black Studies, serving as Chair from 1994 to 1997. He took on several leadership roles in addition to his chairmanships, including serving on search committees and holding Academic Senate positions. He retired in 2010, but continued to teach and mentor students. Prior to joining our campus, Dr. Robinson had held faculty appointments at the University of Michigan and the State University of New York at Binghamton.
In 1980, Professor Robinson and a student started Third World News Review on our campus and community radio station, KCSB. The program offered a dialogue on social, political, and cultural events around the world from sources other than the mainstream media. The show became available on public access television a few years later, and remained on the air for more than 30 years. Cedric’s wife, Elizabeth, has also been an important part of our campus community, previously serving as KCSB Advisor and Associated Students Associate Director for Media. She retired in 2012 after 31 years with the University.
Professor Robinson wrote broadly on subjects ranging from political thought in the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean to Western social theory, film, and the press. He authored several highly regarded books, including The Terms of Order (recently republished after being out of print for decades), Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, Forgeries of Memory and Meaning, and An Anthropology of Marxism (originally published in the United Kingdom but slated for U.S. publication in the next year). He received a B.A. in social anthropology from UC Berkeley, and completed his M.A. and Ph.D. at Stanford University in political theory. His fields of interest were modern political thought, radical social theory in the African diaspora, comparative politics, and media and politics.
Professor Robinson was a person of tremendous passion whose teaching, research, and activist engagement inspired and challenged those in our campus community and far beyond. I remember Cedric as a campus citizen, leader, and mentor who was softspoken, calm, thoughtful, and kind, and never without a sense of humor. Our hearts go out to Elizabeth; their daughter, Najda; their grandson, Jacob; and to the rest of their family and many friends. Cedric will be dearly missed by all of us at UC Santa Barbara.
In honor of his memory, our campus flag will be lowered to half-staff on Thursday, June 16. A memorial service will be held that same day at 1 p.m. at Welch-Ryce-Haider on Ward Drive.
Henry T. Yang