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Dr. Francis E. Dorsey was born Mar. 4, 1951, in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Carl Lester Eugene Dorsey Sr. and Elanye Juanita Dorsey.
In life, Dr. Dorsey achieved eminence through hard work, dedication, the pursuit of higher knowledge, and remaining consistently involved as an advocate and pillar of his community. Dr. Dorsey received an Associate of Arts degree in Education from Gloucester County College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication from Morgan State University, a Master of Arts degree in Communication from The State University of New York at Buffalo and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Rhetoric and Communication, from Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio. A place where he would enlighten minds and enrich the hearts of many young students, as an Associate Professor in the Department of Pan-African Studies.
A boisterous, strong, and imposing force with an abundance of wit, personality, and depth — Dr. Dorsey was inspired by many great leaders such as Pan-Africanist Scholar, Molefi Kete Asante, and The Honorable Marcus Garvey, a Black Nationalist of whom Dr. Dorsey researched as a part of his doctoral journey. In fact, his dissertation was entitled A Rhetoric of Values: An Afrocentric Analysis of Marcus Garvey’s Convention Speeches, 1921-1924.
In 1974, Dr. Dorsey began his teaching career as an instructor in the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts at Morgan State University. Upon his arrival at Kent State University, Dr. Dorsey served in several official capacities but took initiative on a number of responsibilities and construction projects, above and beyond his call of duty in, both, Franklin Hall and Oscar Ritchie Hall. In the early years, he served as the Director of the Center of Pan-African Culture and the Co-founder & Artistic Director of the African Community Theatre. In 1979, as an advocate for the Black theatre and performing arts, Dr. Dorsey directed his first plays, Ed Smith’s “Stagolee” and Shirley Basfield’s “Ebony Woman’’ for the Black Drama Workshop. Under his direction, the Mbari Mbayo Players performed both productions on the stage Dr. Dorsey built by hand, without the use of electric saws. He directed over 50 productions and 18 touring productions. He would also serve as Guest Director for numerous productions throughout Ohio. Mr. Dorsey also served as the advisor for Alpha Phi Omega from 1984-1992. He also had a role in the movie Antwone Fisher, in which he got to work with the likes of Denzel Washington. In 2007, Dr. Dorsey became the Interim Chairperson for the Department of Pan-African Studies, where he oversaw and led the multi-million-dollar renovation of the Historic Oscar Ritchie Hall. Additionally, Dr. Dorsey was appointed as advisor to the Mu Mu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, was Regional Director, and in 2012, he became the 20th National President. Moreover, Dr. Dorsey served with compassion, as the President for the National Association for Black Culture Centers, a professional association of Black Studies scholars across the nation. After retiring from Kent State University in 2013, Dr. Dorsey taught courses part-time in the Africana Studies program at Cleveland State University. Dr. Dorsey planted the seeds of knowledge of thyself, in thousands of students during his teaching tenure.
Dr. Dorsey was significantly involved in his community and was an active member of Spelman Chapel AME Church. As a loving family man, he always went above and beyond for his family, colleagues, students, and community. A few examples of his dedication include driving across the Mid-Atlantic to check in with family, welcoming everyone to his and Marlene’s home every 4th of July for an annual cook-out, and leading Kwanzaa celebrations across Northeast Ohio every year. Doc believed, in his own words, that “the survival of the African-World Community lies in a better understanding of our past, in order for us to comprehend our present and future direction, along with an African-Centered approach to who and what we are as a people.”
Dr. Francis E. Dorsey, 72, transitioned amongst the ancestors on Oct. 20, 2023, after a courageous battle with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer. Francis is survived by his loving wife of 41 years, Dr. Marlene Dorsey; siblings—Carl L. Dorsey Jr., Marvin E. Dorsey, and Theresa S. Fortson; his three children, Jonathan Pace (wife, Santia), Jabari Dorsey (wife, Sarah), and Jelani Dorsey (wife, Blair); 7 grandchildren: Cheyenne, Taron, Jonae, Jaila, Aniah, Nyrobi, and Eniola and one great-grandchild, Jakari.