The mission of the Lee Hagan Africana Studies Center is to promote academic excellence and social responsibility among faculty, students and surrounding community about issues necessary to the empowerment of peoples across the African Diaspora. This is accomplished by presenting challenging and stimulating workshops, speakers, research, conferences; seminars, exhibitions and performances that help develop and support cultural, political, educational, and economic growth for the community.
Students, college faculty, public school teachers, church groups, community groups, and interested individuals are welcome to visit and learn of the resources that the Center has to offer on the Africana experience.
Dr. Lee Frank Hagan was a committed scholar activist who was devoted to the teaching and research of African and African-American History. Born on July 28, 1945 in Brunswick, GA to Melvania Rhymes-Hagan (1918-2008), a Newark, NJ Nurse Assistant; and Felton Hagan (1917-2009), an apartment complex maintenance supervisor in Elizabeth, NJ. Lee was one of four children that included: Oadline Delores, Jerome Anthony, and Maurice Lawrence. The Hagan family migrated to Newark in 1952 where Lee attended the public schools of the city—graduating in 1963 from South Side High School (now Malcolm X Shabazz High School). While at South Side, Lee served as Captain of the Bulldogs Cross Country team; and as a member of both the Boys Explorers and Boys Glee Clubs.
Hagan obtained a Bachelor and Master of Arts degree in History from Seton Hall University (1967 and 1969). His master thesis, “The Black Abolitionists, 1830-1860: Their Role and Relationship with the White Abolitionists,” was completed under the direction of noted historian and future Columbia College president John B. Duff and scholar-activist in civil, disability, and labor rights Edwin R. Lewinson. Hagan earned the Doctorate of Education from Rutgers University in 1983. His dissertation, entitled “Black Studies Programs: An Analysis of Curricula,” examined the development and changes that took place in Black Studies curriculum at four-year New Jersey institutions from their inception to 1982. Hagan’s committee consisted of Kenneth D. Carlson (Chair), Samuel DeWitt Proctor, Elaine C. Condon, and Leonard L. Bethel. Also instrumental in his research were professors Alan K. Colón (Howard University), Douglass Davidson (Institute of the Black World), and prominent Pan-Africanist Leonard Jeffries (CCNY).
Hagan became an Instructor (1969-1976); Assistant Professor (1976-1984); and Associate Professor (1984-1986) of Black Studies, History, and Social Science within the History Department and Director of Afro-American Studies at Jersey City State College, now New Jersey City University (NJCU). During his seventeen NJCU years, Hagan was an advisor to numerous student organizations and belonged to the Committee on Global Studies, General Studies Curriculum Committee, Latin American Studies Program Advisory Committee, and the Executive Steering Committee for the Black Enterprise Seminar Series.
In the fall of 1975, Hagan helped establish (along with Phil Littlejohn, Samuel McGhee, John Raines, Rosetta Rutledge, Sandra Stothoff and Ann Tisdale) the Black Alumni, Administrators, Faculty, Students and Staff Organization (BAAFSSO) to improve the representation and eradicate inequities of Blacks at NJCU.
In 1980, Hagan was a member of the Marion Thompson Wright study group, along with distinguished historians Larry A. Greene, Clement A. Price, and Giles R. Wright, which promoted the study of New Jersey African American History and whose efforts in 1981 led tothe establishment of the annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture series—one of the nation’s longest running scholarly conference series devoted to the historical literacy of a community.
Additionally, Hagan was an active member of the New Jersey Association of Black Educators, the Schomburg Library Lecture Series Advisory Board, the New Jersey Historical Society, the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, the Eastern and Weequahic Park Tennis Association, and the African Heritage Studies Association where he became good friends with celebrated Afrocentric scholars Yosef A.A. Ben-Jochannan (Cornell University) and Ivan G. Van Sertima (Rutgers University)—each of whom gave a eulogy at Hagan’s NJCU Home-Going celebration on November 5, 1986.
At the age of 41, Lee F. Hagan transitioned to join the ancestors on Thursday September 4, 1986 at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark due to complications from cancer. He was cremated at Rosedale Crematory.
Dr. Hagan's dedication inspired many to pursue a higher education that would include an Afrocentric awareness and a commitment to perform meaningful community service. He was an advocate for student empowerment and a positive role model who was often called by student leaders for counsel on matters pertaining to campus life, community events and international affairs. His numerous organizational affiliations and commitment to academic excellence magnifies the zealousness he frequently displayed when accepting and completing responsibilities entrusted to his care.
“Lee Hagan was a principled man. His dedication to bettering the conditions of his people tolerated no compromise or distinction.”
New Jersey City University recognized Hagan’s important contribution to the institution by establishing and naming their Africana Studies Center in his honor soon after his death. Also, on June 2, 2018 the City Council of Jersey City inducted Hagan as a Trailblazing Pioneerinto the “Wall of Fame” of the Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.
Will Guzmán, Director
Lee F. Hagan Africana Studies Center
New Jersey City University
Room 225, Guarini Library
2039 Kennedy Blvd.
Jersey City, NJ 07305
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