UNO Black Studies professor remembered
November 8th, 2011
Omaha, NE – A retired University of Nebraska Omaha black studies Professor, Rev. Dr. Larry C. Menyweather-Woods, died last week. Menyweather-Woods was active in his community, and spent his life advocating for social justice.
Rev. Menyweather-Woods was a professor, pastor, husband, and father. He was also active in his community. Earlier this year, I interviewed him about his thoughts on addressing critical community issues. The Reverend was a believer in the power of churches to push for change – a role he said churches have historically played.
“Even though some people would like to say that we no longer need the church… that’s where you’re missing the boat and the point,” he said. “They’re missing a critical part of it. The advocacy role of the church made the significant difference as far getting the word out and so forth before.”
Menyweather-Woods was originally from Oklahoma. He served in the pastoral ministry for over 40 years. He came to Omaha, and in 1989, started to preach at Pastor Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, one of the oldest predominantly black churches in the city. Menyweather-Woods was also an educator in the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Black Studies Department. Dr. Richard Breaux is an assistant professor of Ethnic Studies at Colorado State University. He taught with Menyweather-Woods in Omaha, and said he was a colleague and friend, determined to fight for social justice.
“He was really tireless in his search for his own truths and helping students to pursue, and find, and seek out some of those truths for themselves,” Breaux said.
“He was also tireless in terms of the fight to bring about some sort of social justice within the community in Omaha,” he said. Breaux added Menyweather-Woods represented many voices in the community, and he said many people will miss him.
“He certainly felt that there were opinions that needed to be heard, that needed to be at the table, in any sort of political social struggle that came up,” Breaux continued.
“I think he really helped to shape the department, in a sense that he was one of a couple links to the community.”
In 2008, Menyweather-Woods received his Ph.D. in Gerontology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He published several academic articles and worked on many community projects. UNO’s department of Gerontology Associate Professor, Dr. Lyn Holley, also worked with Menyweather-Woods.
“He always had a certain intensity and way of doing all the things that he did,” she said. “We use the word passion a lot, and we probably over-use it, and we’ve probably worn it out, but actually it should belong to him because he had passion about everything he did.”
In my nearly hour-long telephone interview with the Reverend earlier this year, he said he was grateful for Omaha because the city helped make and develop him.
“He who has been brought in by the community must know that they have to work for the community,” he said.
After Menyweather-Woods retired from UNO, he and his wife moved to North Carolina, where he died at age 59. Menyweather-Woods leaves behind his wife Gloria Menyweather-Woods, two adult daughters; Wualanda Thenstead, Lacretia Woods and grandchildren.
Funeral services for Dr. Larry Menyweather-Woods will be held in Lawrenceville, Virginia this Saturday. A memorial service will also take place in Omaha on November 19th at the Mount Moriah Baptist Church located in north Omaha.
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