Dr. William A. Little mourned
OW Staff | 3/12/2008, 5 p.m.
Dr. William A. Little was born on February 13, 1941, in Elizabeth City County, Virginia and made his transition on March 1, 2008 at USC University Hospital in Los Angeles.
Dr. Little graduated from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles and entered the U.S. Marine Corps. Following his service in the Marine Corps, he attended Wenatchee Valley Community College in Wenatchee, Washington, where he received an Associate of Arts degree in political science. He continued his educational pursuits at Western Washington State College in Bellingham, Washington, where he received a BA in political science and where he met his wife, Monica M. Little. He received his Master of Social Work in 1972 and a PhD in political science in 1976 from the University of Washington.
Throughout his career, Little distinguished himself as strong intellectual, dedicated leader and astute organizer. As an academic leader at Portland State University, in Portland, Oregon (1977-1983), West Virginia University (1990-1994), and California State University, Dominguez Hills (1994-2007), he played a pivotal role in building Africana Studies into a distinct and viable discipline. As president of National Council for Black Studies (NCBS) from 1992-1998 and a member of its Executive Board until his death, Little was instrumental in NCBS efforts to make the Africana Studies curriculum model more relevant to the experiences of Africana peoples through the Diaspora.
An elder in the African world community, Dr. Little encouraged students and young scholars to draw from his fountain of wisdom. He was a friend, confidant, advisor, coach, and father figure to many in the discipline. In 2006, NCBA paid special tribute to his impeccable mentoring record. Many of the scholars he has mentored over the years presented his tradition of mentorship as a model that departments and organizations in the discipline should follow.
Dr. Little freely gave his time and resources to augment student tuition, scholarships and assisted students in attending national and international conferences. He generously supported the infrastructure of the CSU Dominguez Hills Africana Studies Department with his own resources.
During his tenure at CSU Dominguez Hills, Dr. Little made enduring contributions as the chair of the Department of Africana Studies, coordinator of the Division of World Cultural Studies, coordinator of Social Behavioral Sciences program, the chair of the California State University system-wide African American Studies Lower Division Pattern project and as an emeritus faculty. He served on numerous college and university committees including the Academic Senate, University Curriculum Committee, General Education, and University Retention, Tenure and Promotion committees. He founded the Frederick Douglass-Mary McLeod Bethune Graduation Celebration which brings together several thousands of family members every year to celebrate student achievement. He also instituted the MLK Unity Breakfast which celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition, he founded the CSU Dominguez Hills Fannie Lou Hammer Queenmother society which honors the wisdom of Africana women who have made significant, life-long contributions to their communities. The CSU Dominguez Hills Queenmother Society is actively involved in promoting our campus and supporting our students.
In 1993 and 1996 Little served as the director of the NCBS Ford Foundation Africana Studies Summer Institute in Ghana. In this capacity, he was responsible for bringing together Africana scholars and educators from the United States and Ghana to share ideas focused on creating courses and curriculum that would be relevant to African world peoples. Little also served as the director of NCBS Ford Foundation Administrative Institute. The institute provided training for Africana studies educators and administrators, many of whom have become university department heads, deans, provosts and presidents.
His recent publications include The Study of Race, Ethnicity and Class: A Case Study of Durban, South Africa (co-authored, Forthcoming 2008), The Borders in All of Us: A New Approach to Global Diasporic Societies (co-edited, 2006) and A Walk with the Ancestors Across Time: A Collection of Poems and Reflections (2000).
Dr. Little leaves his devoted wife Monica M. of 37 years, four sisters, Rosa Little Scott, Addie Little, Debrae Little, Terri Gill and his brother Jonathan Little.