Dr. Jean Frances Herskovits was born in Evanston, Illinois on May 20, 1935. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College in 1956, and her PhD. from Oxford University in 1960, writing her dissertation on freed slaves who returned to Africa and the Lagos Colony. She was a research professor of history at the State University of New York at Purchase specializing in African (particularly Nigerian) history and politics. Herskovits taught at Brown University, Swarthmore College, City College of the City University of New York and Columbia University. Her parents were known American Anthropologist, who helped establish African and African-American studies in American academia.
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Dr. Jean Herskovits, who died on February 5 2019, was widely recognized as a foremost expert on Nigeria who came to know and love the country and its people over five decades. In Nigeria, she served as a director of United Bank for Africa from 1998 to 2005, where she also chaired the Board of Trustees of the United Bank for Africa Foundation. She also served as head of the Nigeria re-investment project of Citizens Energy corporation and was a member of Conoco Philips’ Nigeria Advisory Council from 2001- 2008.
She was a founding member of the board of the T.J. Danjuma Foundation. Her interest in Nigeria was accompanied by a desire to see it fulfill its vast potential.
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