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CROMWELL, Adelaide McGuinn, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Sociology, Boston University, peacefully gave life a passing grade in hospice care on June 8, 2019. She held her final class in Brookline, Massachusetts, where she resided for 44 of her 99 years, encouraging her acolytes—here, near and abroad—to improve themselves as global citizens, with a particular imperative to empower women, especially those of color, and cherish the vulnerable, the promising, and the brave.

An influential Afro-American intellectual, feminist scholar, nurturing teacher, academic administrator, and persistent agent of benevolent disruption, Dr. Cromwell was a native of the District of Columbia where her family was distinguished for its accomplishments in law, journalism, accounting, scholarship, and, especially, education. She self-consciously perpetuated this tradition as a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Smith College’s Class of 1940 (four decades after her aunt Otelia had become the school’s first black alumna) before earning graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr, and, ultimately, a doctorate from Radcliffe in 1953.

By then she had already become the first black to teach at Hunter College as well as at Smith. Hired by Boston University, she became one of the founders of its African Studies Program, the second in its field in the country. In 1969, she initiated the university’s Afro-American Studies program as one of the first in the nation to specialize in post-graduate degrees. An author of several studies of the roles of elites in different contexts, she is best known for The Other Brahmins: Boston’s Black Upper Class 1750-1950.

A personification of the unquenchable spirit of liberty, sorority and justice that has repeatedly ransomed the Republic, Dr. Cromwell is survived by her son, Anthony Cromwell Hill of Cambridge and Tisbury, MA.

A Memorial Service will be held on November 5, 2019 at 1:00 PM in Boston University’s Marsh Chapel.

Memorial Service

November 5, 2019 1:00 pm –

Boston University’s Marsh Chapel

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