Director of MU’s black studies department dies

Sunday, October 28, 2007 | 6:26 p.m. CDT; updated 6:22 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Julius E. Thompson, an MU professor of history and director of the Black Studies Program, died Friday, Oct. 26, 2007.

Dr. Thompson was born in Vicksburg, Miss., and educated in Natchez, Miss.

Dr. Thompson graduated from Alcorn State University in 1969 and received his master’s and doctorate degrees from Princeton University in 1971 and 1973, respectively.

He taught at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss.; Florida Memorial College in Miami; State University of New York at Albany; the University of Zimbabwe as part of a Fulbright grant; the University of Rochester in New York; and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale before joining the MU faculty in 1996.

“He was a serious scholar, somebody with a strong artistic temperament,” said Jonathan Sperber, chairman of MU’s history department. “He was really a very pleasant person to work with. He did his job, and he was very conscientious about it.”

Thompson, 61, wrote several books, including two collections of poetry. Considered a specialist in Mississippi history and one of the most highly-published black writers from the Southern state, Thompson was a major proponent of giving MU’s Black Studies Program status as a department. Currently, MU students can only minor or double-major in black studies.

Arrangements for memorial services, which are being handled by Warren Funeral Chapel, will be announced later.

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