DEARBORN — Dr. Ahmad Rahman was known as a boon to youth, the African American community and students on the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus.
Rahman, an associate professor of African and African American history at the university, died Monday night at his home in Belleville. He was 64.
The cause of death was a heart attack, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Marty Hershock, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences and Letters, commended Rahman for “his enthusiastic commitment to empowering students and to assisting them to achieve things that they never imagined possible.”
A funeral was held Wednesday at the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, followed by a burial in Plymouth.
The Black Student Union at UM-Dearborn held a prayer vigil for Rahman on Thursday. Hershock said the university is working with Rahman’s family to organize another commemorative event on campus in the coming weeks.
Dr. Deborah Smith Pollard, director of African and African American Studies, worked with Rahman from the time he started at the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2004.
Smith Pollard described Rahman as interesting and brilliant, but said his contributions to the university extended beyond his research and teaching.
“He is one of the best advocates I’ve ever seen for students,” she said. “There are students who expected that they would not have graduated had they not crossed his path.”
He was also an integral part of the team that recently transitioned the African and African American Studies program from a minor to a major, she said.
Rahman earned master’s and doctoral degrees in history from the University of Michigan. His academic research centered on Black globalist movements, the history of Black power and civil rights movements and slavery in Africa and the American south.
This semester he was teaching a history course and two African American studies courses — Civil Rights Movement in America, and Odyssey of Black Men in America.
Off campus, Rahman worked with the Detroit Public Schools System to implement online modules that allow teachers to infuse their classes with African and African American history. He was also a program coordinator for the Washtenaw County Intermediate School District’s Program for Homeless Youth.
As the developer of Cyberdad, a mobile mentorship program, Rahman connected Detroit children without fathers with male volunteers whom they could call for advice.
In his hometown of Chicago, Rahman was a member of the Black Panther Party and later transferred to the Detroit branch. Rahman converted to Islam during his involvement in the Black nationalist movement.
“He was a good man, he was a good professor and he was a great advocate for our students,” Smith Pollard said.