Cyril E. Griffith

Griffith was appointed assistant professor of history at Penn State in 1970. He became an associate professor in 1976 and taught African history at Penn State for 26 years, retiring as an associate professor emeritus in 1993. He served as the first director of the Black Studies Program from 1975 to 1979.

Born in Bermuda on September 5, 1929, Griffith earned a bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in 1963, a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University in 1965, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1973.

He was the author of The African Dream: Martin R. Delany and the Emergence of Pan-African Thought (1973) and a founding member of the Black History Advisory Committee of the Pennsylvania Historical Commission. He was cited for his “deep commitment to the promotion and preservation of Black history and culture in Pennsylvania.” He was also a member of the African Studies Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and the Penn State Faculty Senate.

Griffith died of a sudden heart attack on July 22, 1994. The “Cyril Griffith Papers,” housed in the Archives and Special Collections of the Penn State Libraries, include his extensive research into African American history, religion, and culture, including detailed work on A.M.E. churches.