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Subject: August Meier, 79, Authority on Black American History

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Date Posted: March 26, 2003 2:01:29 EDT

August Meier, an expert on African-American history, died last Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 79.

He had a progressive neurological disorder, said Dr. Diane E. Meier, his niece.

Much of Professor Meier's writing focused on the relationship of African-Americans' intellectual history to the civil rights movement. He taught at a succession of universities and colleges, ending with Kent State, where he became university professor of history.

A book-length collection of essays, some by him and some by another scholar of African-American history, Elliott Rudwick, was published in 1976 under the title "Along the Color Line: Explorations in the Black Experience." Looking back more than a quarter-century later, David Levering Lewis, winner of Pulitzer Prizes for both volumes of his biography of W. E. B. Du Bois, wrote, "Meier and Rudwick's intellectual passion, professional integrity and almost manic involvement in virtually every aspect of their academic specialty were of inestimable value in the coming of age of African-American history."

The numerous other works for which Professor Meier won praise included "Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington" (1963), a book credited with proving that in that era, black Americans' support was split between integration and separation.

He was also awarded the Philip Taft Labor History Award for his book "Black Detroit and the Rise of the U.A.W." (1979).

In a telephone interview yesterday, the historian John Hope Franklin called Professor Meier "one of the real pillars of African-American history," who "played a very key role in putting it on the map and putting it on the record."

Professor Meier, a native New Yorker, received a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and master's and doctoral degrees, both in history, from Columbia.

Besides his niece Diane, he is survived by a brother, Paul, of Manhattan, and two other nieces, Karen Meier of San Jose, Calif., and Joan Meier of Takoma Park, Md.

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