Theodore Hemmingway, 64, a full professor of African-American history at Florida A&M University, died Monday evening of a massive heart attack.
In 1972, Hemmingway started working at FAMU while finishing his dissertation at the University of South Carolina.
David Jackson, the chairman of the department of History, Geography and African-American Studies, said Hemmingway made students think more critically.
“He was an eye opener for students and it made them look at the world differently. While taking Dr. Hemmingway’s class he inspired me to be a history professor,” Jackson explained. “He touched the lives of thousands of people who will touch the lives of thousands of people. That creates change.” Some students said they believe Hemmingway will be remembered as a teacher who enjoyed teaching.
Gabrielle Downer, 19, a freshman political science student from Palm Bay said, “I’m so grateful to have been in his presence. Because of him I want to help my fellow African-Americans on issues that we are faced with today.”
Downer said Hemmingway taught her an interesting thing about black people.
“He said, ‘white people don’t know anything about black people. Black people don’t know anything black people. What black people know about black people, they learned from white people.'”
Hemmingway made a lot of great points about the importance of black history, she said.
Hemmingway also taught her that history defines a people, and blacks should know where they come from.
“He inspired me to become a lawyer and an activist. I want to help fellow African-Americans in school and out of school,” Downer said. “Dr. Hemmingway said African-Americans need more heroes, and I plan to become one. I am so grateful to have been in his presence.”
According to Jackson, Hemmingway very vibrant while teaching his classes. Just last week, Jackson said his late colleague told him “no one could ever say that I’m not for the students.”
Jackson was Hemmingway’s student in the 1990s.
“I can remember him quoting Public Enemy in one of my courses,” Jackson explained.
“He was a very well-read man who was always involved in deep thinking, he studied the weather and hurricanes and how they affected families,” he said.
Hemmingway won Teacher of the Year four times at FAMU.
According to a recent press release from the university, Hemmingway served as the interim dean of graduate studies, research and continuing education, associate dean of the graduate school and president of the FAMU faculty senate.
He also worked at Auburn University for a brief time as assistant to the president.
He also served on 150 FAMU committees at the department, college and university level.
Along with that, he chaired 25 university committees.
Hemmingway was a also a writer who published more than two dozen historical articles and book reviews in journals and periodicals including The Journal of Mississippi History, Phylon, Journal of Negro History and The Negro History Bulletin.
Hemmingway was a South Carolina native.
He received a bachelor’s and master’s degree at North Carolina Central University
Faculty members from the history department will be covering Hemmingway’s classes for the rest of the week.
A candle light vigil will be held tonight from 7-8 p.m. in front of the Eternal Flame.
A wake will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday at St. Mary’s Primitive Baptist Church, located at 642 W. Georgia St., according to a press release.
Funeral services will be held Saturday at 1 p.m., but the venue is undetermined according to a spokesperson for the family.
Contact Jeanna Dorcelin at email@example.com