William Loren Katz, Historian of African-Americans, Dies at 92

He documented the in overall overpassed contributions of shadowy of us in books for young adults, helping to refashion social studies curriculums precise by the country.

Sam Roberts

The fountainhead of the historian Bill Katz’s immersion in African-American tradition modified into once his father’s passion for jazz. Ben Katz had derived extra pleasure from the song and its ancient roots than from his day job as an paintings director for an advertising and marketing company.

Bill additionally inherited his father’s lust for learning and political consciousness. Earlier than he modified into once 10 he marched in a Would possibly maybe presumably Day rally to give a snatch to the Scottsboro Boys, nine young African-People falsely charged with rape in the early 1930s.

His empathy for shadowy People only grew. As a highschool teacher and in some 40 books written below the name William Loren Katz, he wakened his readers to the integral roles that African-People — from rebellious slaves to cowboys who tamed the West — had played of their nation’s ancient previous. He popularized their contributions in nonfiction narratives for young adults, helping to refashion social studies curriculums precise by the country.

Mr. Katz died on Oct. 25 at a clinic in Long island. He modified into once 92. His wife, Laurie R. Lehman, an companion professor of particular education at Long Island University, said the realm off modified into once complications of coronary heart disease.

Barely than setting apart racial or ethnic studies in separate lessons or departments, Mr. Katz favored incorporating the contributions of overpassed ladies and members of minority groups into fashioned American ancient previous programs.

“The assertion that the Negro has no ancient previous price pointing out is frequent to the principle that he has no humanity price defending,” he told The Recent York Times in 1968.

Who knew, he requested in 1990, that Lewis Howard Latimer, a shadowy inventor, had “drawn up the plans for Bell’s cell phone”? Or that one other shadowy innovator, Elijah McCoy, the son of runaway slaves, had designed an industrial lubricating instrument so extremely valued by machinists that the ask for it inspired the idiom “the precise McCoy”?

Mr. Katz’s first book, “Eyewitness: The Negro in American History” (1967), broke ground by introducing a skills of students to shadowy ancient figures who had been overlooked in most textbooks.


Within the slack 1960s Mr. Katz edited two sequence — “The American Negro: His History and Literature” and “The Antislavery Campaign in The united states” — that totaled better than 200 volumes of scholarly and out-of-print texts. The sequence were printed collectively by The Recent York Times and Arno Press.

“He wrote about dauntless shadowy ladies, slave rebellions and antislavery actions when discussing such matters modified into once terrible and viewed as unpatriotic,” Jesse Weaver Shipley, a professor of African and African-American studies and oratory at Dartmouth College, said in an email.

Among Mr. Katz’s other books were “The Shaded West” (1973) and “Shaded Indians” (1986).

“When whites were sending out posses, Native People were extending the hand of friendship,” Mr. Katz told The Times in 1994. “Nearly every Afro-American family in the US has a Native American branch to its family tree, from Michael Jackson to Jesse Jackson, from Frederick Douglass to Langston Hughes.”

Mr. Katz modified into once born Loren Paul Katz on June 2, 1927, in Brooklyn to Bernard and Madeline (Simon) Katz, whose private of us were Jewish immigrants. Ben Katz, as he modified into once identified, besides being a industrial paintings director, modified into once an ardent leftist; Madeline Katz, a used championship diver, died several weeks after Loren modified into once born. His stepmother, Phyllis (Brownstone) Katz, modified into once an editor at Folks journal.

Mr. Katz chose his pen name, Dr. Lehman said, because he had adopted the nickname Bill (his mother modified into once identified as Billie) and determined that William Loren Katz sounded extra scholarly than Loren Paul Katz.

As well to Dr. Lehman, whom he married in 1994, Mr. Katz is survived by a daughter, Naomi Katz, from a old marriage, which resulted in divorce; a granddaughter; and a younger stepbrother, Jonathan, whom he mentored and who wrote the trailblazing book “Ecstatic American History” (1976). A son, Michael, died earlier.

Mr. Katz grew up in Greenwich Village and modified into once in the fundamental graduating class of the inner most, modern Elisabeth Irwin Excessive College in Lower Long island. He then joined the Navy and served in the Pacific at the tip of World Struggle II.

Mr. Katz recalled in an interview with the Zinn Training Mission (named after one other modern historian, Howard Zinn) that his interesting opinions had first surfaced in highschool, when, in a college mission, he devoted the fundamental three chapters of a 200-page ancient previous of jazz to slavery.

He went on to back Syracuse University on the G.I. Bill, earning a bachelor’s degree in ancient previous in 1950. He acquired a master’s in education from Recent York University. He started teaching in Upper Long island in 1955 and later taught at Woodlands Excessive College in Hartsdale, N.Y.

Mr. Katz recalled that his loyalty to the US modified into once puzzled all by the Crimson Dread by the Recent York City Board of Training after he had held a research room dialogue in which he raised doubts about whether or no longer Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who had been convicted of conspiracy to see for the Soviet Union, were unjustly completed in 1953.

He modified into once cleared, he said, after reminding board officers that he had volunteered for the Navy and had purchased $175 in battle bonds.

“That modified into once the degree of stupidity in the McCarthy generation,” he said.

Impressed by the scholarship of historians fancy John Hope Franklin and Robin D.G. Kelley, Mr. Katz later acknowledged that reinterpreting the previous modified into once anxious below any cases.

“I actually private been humbled by the awesome assignment of rejecting bias,” he wrote in “Shaded Indians.” “I actually private by no strategy sought bland neutrality and private consoled myself that unbiased ancient previous has yet to be written.”