OSBORNE E. SCOTT
Early Ethnic-Studies Professor
The Reverend Osborne E. Scott, one of the first black chaplains in the Army, died November 2, 1997, in New Rochelle, N.Y., at 81. Mr. Scott earned a divinity degree at Oberlin Graduate School of Theology in 1941 following his graduation from Hampton Institute. (See Victor Stone's Letter to the Editor, recalling his visit to Hampton with Mr. Scott and others) and was pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Brooklyn for many years. He joined the faculty of City College in 1969 to organize its urban and ethnic studies department, and, as chair, developed courses for ethnic specialization in response to the student unrest of the 1960s. Soon after his appointment, City College was closed for two weeks because of the disorder and disruptions that rebellious students created, urging, among other reforms, that black and Hispanic history be taught in the education department. Mr. Scott phased in courses in African-American, Puerto Rican, Asian-American and Jewish history and culture, and taught in the black studies department until 1986, when he took emeritus status.
He was Army chaplain from 1941 to 1964, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1946, Mr. Scott became the first African-American appointed to the faculty of the Army Chaplain School; his post took him to New Guinea, the Phillipines, Japan, Europe, and Korea where he assisted in the reconstruction of war-torn communities.
Before accepting the City College position, he was executive vice-president of the American Leprosy Mission of Greenville, S.C., training field workers to care for leprosy victims in about 30 countries.
Mr. Scott's wife died in 1990; his survivors include two sons and several grandchildren.