On October 14th Dr. Mildred A. Hill-Lubin, emerita faculty member of UF’s English Department and affiliate and friend of Women’s Studies, left her legacy of “willful behavior,” audaciousness, and womanist social change advocacy in our hands as she transitioned from life into the realm of the ancestors. As we commemorate her life, it becomes clear: we stand upon broad, caring, poised, and courageous shoulders. It is with gratitude and respect that the Center for Gender, Sexualities and Women’s Studies Research honors her today.
“Dr. Hill-Lubin was not only one of the originators of the UF Women’s Studies Program, she was a ground breaker for pluralistic intellectual inclusion and curriculum building in many other areas we and our students now move through with ease and boundless expectations for success.” — Debra Walker King
During an era when rumblings about should and, if so, in what capacity Black and White women meet in alliance around feminist issues and women’s advancement, this powerhouse of dignity and intellectual verve emerged. Amid mountains of skepticism concerning what some considered a not-so-serious idea, Dr. Hill-Lubin shared her passion for women’s studies, used her energy for advancing change, and stood for what she knew was right and progressive in the academy. She held hands with sisters of cultural and racial difference, women like Irene Thompson and Ruth McQuown, in a common cause and, with sustained efforts, founded Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Florida. It was not an easy task but one to which she was dedicated and, in unbreakable coalition with her sisters, victorious. She taught us to revere the authority of women in unity. For this, we honor her today.
Dr. Hill-Lubin was not only one of the originators of the UF Women’s Studies program, she was a ground breaker for pluralistic, intellectual inclusion and curriculum building in many other areas we and our students now move through with ease and boundless expectations for success. In her role as a professor of American, African American and African Literatures, she introduced Black women writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Rebecca Carroll, April Sinclair, Bessie Head, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Matiama Ba to students and faculty alike. She taught us to be empowered by an awareness of Black women’s voices, intellect, and beauty. For this, we honor her today.
As a woman of firsts, this foremother taught us courage. She not only introduced Anglo-phone African Literature to the university but also served as the first African American to lead the international African Literature Association and was the first African American and woman appointed as Assistant Dean in UF’s Graduate School. Dr. Hill-Lubin advised the American Council on Education, the Office of Women in Higher Education, and the Council of Chief State School Officers (Washington, DC). She sat as a member of the University of Florida Senate and the Florida Commission of Education, and the Florida Humanities Council among other impressive member associations and accomplishments. Dr. Hill-Lubin leaves us with a legacy of courage to enter “foreign” spaces and meet obstacles as “the first,” if that is what we must do to bring about change or advance the positive in the lives of others. For this, we honor her today.
We could go on, but it would take reams of paper and many hours to detail the accomplishments of this nationally and internationally respected intellectual, scholar, teacher, administrator, activist, sorority sister (Golden and Life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority), leader and womanist standard bearer for communal and individual wholeness. We could go on in celebration of her legacy… We must go on….We can go on….We will go on….And for this, we honor her today.