For the Black community of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, this is a time of quiet mourning.
For it marks the unexpected passing of Dawud Akbar, a man who made his home there.
Since leaving school in the early 1970's, Akbar built a life of service and caring in Pittsburgh, not just as a psychologist, but as a community organizer, teacher and mentor for many.
Born January 6, 1949 in Harlem, New York, he witnessed the murder of his mother at the tender age of 8 years. When he went to college at Morehouse, in Atlanta, GA, he met and was deeply inspired by the renowned Black psychologist, Dr. Na'im Akbar, who so inspired him that he took the name Akbar, and converted to Islam.
He earned a Masters degree at the University of Pittsburgh in 1973, and with his wife, Sama'iyah, built a life and family in his adopted city. He founded the Nzingha Institute, and helped to bring the Maafa ritual to hundreds of Pittsburgers annually. The local practice was a ceremony where the history of African captivity, transport and freedom struggles in the Americas was remembered and ritualized.
Given the trauma of his childhood, he worked with young people to try to give them a sense of their place in the larger community.
He wrote several books on social and familial health and harmony.
He worked long and hard to serve the many needs of his community, and even three heart attacks didn't stop him.
Recently, he suffered a debilitating cerebral hematoma.
Dawud Albar was 60 years old.
(c) '09 maj