By Grace Moody, News Editor
A vigil was held yesterday in the Armstrong Student Center to honor Adrian Gaskins, Augustus “Gus” Jones and Heanon Wilkins — three African-American professors who have died within the past two months.
Gaskins, a professor of American Studies and Black World Studies, died over the winter term, and Jones, a political science professor, died unexpectedly Dec. 3.
Wilkins retired from Miami in 1992 and died Dec. 16. He was Miami’s first tenured track African-American professor, and the Heanon Wilkins Faculty Fellowship was created in his name. Gaskins joined Miami as a Heanon Wilkins fellow in 2008.
The vigil began when Morrel Wax, president of Miami’s Association of Black Faculty & Staff (ABFAS), led a group through the Armstrong Student Center, holding a sign that read, “In loving memory, gone but never forgotten.”
The group then stood on the stage, each holding a sign with words such as “scholar,” “educator,” “Political Science” and “professor.”
Rodney Coates, director of Miami’s Black World Studies program in the Department of Global and Intercultural Studies, spoke to the crowd at the vigil.
“The Miami tradition is no longer reflected in the lives of three of our colleagues,” Coates said. “These three scholars, who represent the epiphany of what Miami is about, geniuses that for over 20 years — 30 years in some cases — dedicated their lives to students, oftentimes overcoming obstacles of indifference and overcoming obstacles of ignorance.”
Coates closed by saying, “What made each of them so wonderful is that not only did they embrace their scholarship and exude humility, but they had this warmth and love and so therefore we celebrate their lives here at Miami.”