Honoring the Legacy of Dr. James L. Conyers

The University of Houston, Center for Public History, and Houston History magazine continue to mourn the loss of professor and faculty member Dr. James “Jim” Conyers, who passed away at the end of January. Dr. Conyers was the Director of the University of Houston’s African American Studies program and an advocate for social justice in Houston.

Conyers was highly respected and beloved by students and colleagues alike. Joining UH in 2002, Conyers served as a professor at UH for nearly twenty years. He received his B.A. from Ramapo College of New Jersey, studied Kiswahili at Cornell, and later earned his Ph.D. from Temple University in African American Studies. Continuing to learn more within his field, Dr. Conyers conducted archival and oral history research at the University of Ghana and the University of Cape Coast. Before joining the UH family, he taught at the University of Nebraska where he received the University Excellence in Teaching award.

While teaching at UH, Dr. Conyers played a pivotal role in the shaping and structure of the African American Studies program – one of only two degree granting programs in Texas to offer a bachelor’s degree in the field.

















The Center for Public History and Houston History magazine were proud to work with Dr. Conyers over the years. His public-facing scholarship was vital to the life of the university, connecting people to the larger discipline through mediums outside of the classroom. In addition to oral history and archival research, he was the author of or the collaborator on over 40 scholarly books. He frequently wrote articles relating to social justice and African American Studies – some published in the Houston Chronicle.

Last spring, the Center for Public History and Houston History magazine worked with Dr. Conyers and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences to host a scholarly panel discussion, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the African American Studies program at the University of Houston. We were thankful to have him contribute an article to Houston History magazine, detailing the historical milestones of UH’s African American Studies’ legacy.

One of Professor Conyers’s most impressive accomplishments was the creation of the William Alexander Lawson Social Justice Scholarship for undergraduate students of African American Studies—a scholarship that Dr. Conyers personally endowed, reflecting his lifelong commitment to student success and social justice.

The Center for Public History invites you to join us in honoring Dr. Conyers’ memory by contributing to the William Alexander Lawson Social Justice Scholarship Endowment by going to the UH Giving page.

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) and Center for Public History will miss such an admirable figure, who represents the excellence that we strive for and seek to showcase through our academic efforts. His impact will not be forgotten.

If you are interested in learning more about the African American Studies department at UH or curious as to how to support the program, please contact the CLASS Development team at classdevelopment@uh.edu.