It is with a sense of both sadness (and celebration) that I write on the passing of a modern-day hero. Someone who despite herculean sized stumbling blocks persevered, thrived, and excelled – even when his hard work was acknowledged with contempt. A rock-solid example of the “show them strategy,” he “kept on keeping on” by eradicating barriers; by behaving as David in the Goliath of a profession where he was many times considered outsider. His attempts to make things easier still reverberate – within mentorship programs, scholarship initiatives, and literature designed to showcase (and illuminate) social issues (like Black Fathers: an Invisible Presence in America).
I first met Dr. Joe in 2003, at the MTSU International Conference on Cultural Diversity. For thirteen years he provided encouragement, support, information on my dissertation topic (diversity!), at the same time radiating a positive, uplifting presence. I later realized he had been doing likewise for dozens of other people.
His infectious humor and family pride permeated his correspondence. His achievements (and hectic travel schedule) were not only impressive (considering he was retired!), but garnered him much deserved recognition, accolades, and awards. As an epitome of social change, he continued crusading up until the very end.
A new generation must now catch the baton he has carried. We must fearlessly cast our bread upon the waters, so that we ourselves can behave as trailblazers and change agents. We must, in the words of Joe White, “keep the faith.”
To Lois, Lisa, Lori, and Lynn – a profound thanks to each of you for sharing the gift of “Dr. Joe.”
He will be forever remembered in our hearts.