When Timothy Askew describes his accomplishments, he talks of the many people who went before him, opening doors and blazing trails, as well as the people who encouraged and nurtured him along the way.
"My mother was a high school valedictorian," he said. "She knew her choice was to clean up in a white woman's kitchen or come to Atlanta and work in a cafeteria. So she came to Atlanta. My father made it through the fourth grade. But they were the best parents I could have had. They gave me lots of books, everything I could have wanted. I'm grateful to realize their dreams."
The encouragement of his teachers, from elementary school through graduate school, has been a driving influence in Askew's life. He named teacher after teacher who had pushed him to excel, to stretch his horizons, to thirst for knowledge and understanding. From his seventh grade teacher, Mary Lockwood, who recognized his "far-reaching horizons," to Rosalie Baum at the University of South Florida, who "made me thirst for American literature," to Emory Associate Professor in the Insitute of the Liberal Arts (ILA) Allen Tullos, "who was supportive and encouraging but very challenging," Askew credited their contributions.
Askew earned his bachelor's degree from Morehouse College, and his master's degree at Yale. He spent a semester at the University of South Florida as a doctoral fellow, then returned to Atlanta after the death of his father to take a teaching position at Clark College. The opportunity to teach, said Askew "was wonderful. I had the opportunity to nurture students--to give them a good English course, but also a good life course."
After several years of teaching, he decided to pursue a Ph.D. In his dissertation, titled "Cultural Hegemony and African American Patriotism: An Analysis of the Song `Lift Every Voice and Sing,'" Askew explored the history of the song as a symbol, its meaning in the past and the present. "I looked at what it means in the '90s for a work to be considered a black national anthem, to both black and white Americans, and what it should mean for us in the future."
Askew plans on continuing his career as a college professor. He would like to serve in the same type of nurturing, challenging role for his students that he has experienced with the teachers in his life. Those teachers, he said, "believed in me, and saw that I had far-reaching horizons. I want to pass that on to my students -- that regardless of race or color, they know that I believe in them."
-- Nancy M. Spitler