Dr. Perry Hall, Associate Professor in the African, African American and Diaspora Studies Department in the College of Arts & Sciences, passed away over the weekend of April 18. Dr. Hall focused on hip hop music to teach such popular courses as AAAD 130: Introduction to African American and Diaspora Studies and AAD 356: The History of Hip Hop Culture. In addition to leading the capstone senior seminar for Afro-American Studies majors, he has taught courses pertaining to the Black Freedom Struggle, and the development of African American social and political leadership. He has also captured much of his experience in the field in his book, In the Vineyard: Working in African American Studies.
Quoted in a September 2019 issue of UNC Research’s publication, Endeavors, Dr. Hall said of his approach to challenges within his chosen field, “My career as an academic has been premised on solving the fundamental problem of legitimizing and situating the emergent field of African American and diaspora studies as an integral component in the institution of American higher education. For example, I chaired the committee that articulated the National Council for Black Studies’ first rationale for a core curriculum. My colleagues and I have been compelled to clarify the substance and validate the integrity of our studies against the inertia of established practice. ‘Speaking truth to power’ in such instances, I found that holding my ground or speaking out assertively produced better results than acceding to social or institutional pressures. The lesson learned from this and other life challenges is that bravery comes from courage in the face of fear.”
Students were particularly hard hit with the news. The Black Student Movement’s current president, Chris J. Suggs, wrote in a message to BSM members, “Students of Dr. Hall, including myself, loved his cool spirit, tell-it-like-it-is persona, and devoted passion for hip hop music…I send my most sincere prayers to Dr. Hall’s loved ones and every member of our community grieving this monumental loss.”
Written by Adrianne Gibilisco