Niara Sudarkasa

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Niara Sudarkasa
Born Gloria Albertha Marshall
(1938-08-14) August 14, 1938 (age 75)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Education Ph.D. in anthropology, Columbia University (1964)
Occupation Anthropologist

Niara Sudarkasa (born August 14, 1938) is an American scholar, educator, Africanist and anthropologist who holds thirteen honorary degrees, and is the recipient of nearly 100 civic and professional awards.[1] In 1989 Essence magazine named her "Educator for the '90s",[2] and in 2001 she became the first African American to be installed as a Chief in the historic Ife Kingdom of the Yoruba of Nigeria.[3][4]


Niara Sudarkasa was born Gloria Albertha Marshall on August 14, 1938 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Niara was a gifted student who skipped several grades in primary school. She graduated from high school and accepted early admission to Fisk University on a Ford Foundation scholarship when she was fifteen years old. She left Fisk and transferred to Oberlin, earning an associates degree in anthropology and English from Oberlin in 1957. She received her masters degree in anthropology from Columbia University. While completing her Ph.D. she taught at Columbia University, becoming the first African American woman to teach there when she earned her Ph.D. in 1964.[5]

Soon after earning her Ph.D., Sudarkasa was appointed assistant professor of anthropology at New York University, the first black woman to hold that position. She was also the first African American to be appointed to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan in 1969. While at Michigan, she became involved in civil rights and student issues. When she left Michigan in 1986, Sudarkasa became the first female to serve as president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

During Surdarkasa's presidency at Lincoln University the school increased enrollment, strengthened its undergraduate and international programs and put into place an ambitious minority recruitment effort. She stepped down from her post as president at Lincoln in 1998.[6] Currently she is the Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,[5] and sits on the board of directors for several organizations including the Academy for Educational Development.

Forced to resign from Lincoln University Sudarkasa’s epilogue – Niara Sudarkasa, Lincoln University – Interview Sudarkasa resigns in wake of state’s audit report – Lincoln University, Niara Sudarkasa Art, audits, and allegations – Lincoln University, President Niara Sudarkasa Lincoln U. Prez Quits Trustees Pushed Her Out After State Held Up $11m In Funding


Surdarkasa is the author of numerous publications.

  • The Strength of Our Mothers: African & African American Women & Families : Essays and Speeches. (1997) Africa World Press.
  • Where Women Work: a Study of Yoruba Women in the Marketplace and in the Home. (1973) University of Michigan Press.
  • The Barnes Bond Connection. with David Levering Lewis and Julian Bond. (1995) Lincoln University Press.
  • Exploring the African- American experience. (1995) Lincoln University Press.
  • Building a partnership in education: The key to African development. (1992) NAFEO Excellence, Inc.
  • Education Is Still the Key: Selected Speeches & Essays. (1998) Africa World Press.


  1. ^ (2005) "Niara Sudarkasa Biography" Retrieved 8/15/07.
  2. ^ Washington, E.B. (1989) "Niara Sudarkasa: Educator for the 1990s," Essence, May.
  3. ^ "Niara Sudarkasa Biography" Retrieved 9/24/07.
  4. ^ "Sudarkasa named chief of Ife". Kappa Omicron website. Retrieved 8/15/07.
  5. ^ a b "Niara Sudarkasa". Academy for Educational Development. Retrieved 8/15/07.
  6. ^ Profile: Dr. Niara Sudarkasa". Miami Herald. Retrieved 8/15/07.