Remembering Dr. Tate: A Man of Many Titles

Dr. Tate was one of the first African-American studies professors at Missouri State. Photo courtesy of Minister Peoples

Dr. Tate was one of the first African-American studies professors at Missouri State. Photo courtesy of Minister Peoples

By Briana Simmons, The Black Bear - Rev. Dr. Maurice Tate, Sr. was born Feb. 7, 1950 in Gary, Indiana. He received his bachelor's and master's degree at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. In 1990, he received his doctorate in education from the University of Nebraska.

Tate was the principal of Father Flanagan High School in Omaha, NE.
He also taught at several colleges in Illinois before making his way to
Missouri State University.

He loved to sing and cook. But according to his closest family
members and friends, he had an undying love for his students
and for ministering to the community.

Jakobi Connor, junior finance major, is one of Tate’s many former students. Connor took Tate’s introduction to African American studies course in his freshman year.

He said it was great to experience an African-American male professor so early in his college career; an experience, he said, is unlikely to happen again.

“He’s just an example that being minority does not mean that you can’t be anything that you want to and succeed in life,” Connor said.

Connor said African American Studies (AAS 100) has been his favorite class so far, because of its versatility and topics that would, sometimes, lead to debates in the classroom.

“The environment…he kept it open for discussion. Sometimes, the discussions we had got kind of intense. He allowed students to say their opinions and he gave his opinions without holding anything back,” Connor said.

Connor said he admired a few things about Dr. Tate. He said Tate was a very spiritual, family man who had a way with words. Connor says Dr. Tate’s sense of humor was like no other.

Connor attended his funeral along with a few other students. Connor said he expected more students to pay their respects at his services.

“I feel like he should be remembered… I feel like Missouri State should do something in remembrance of him,” Connor said.

Minister Christine Peoples is the founder of Peoples Etiquette, a local community group. It was only a matter of time before she would become in close contact with Tate.

The two met when she began her work with Springfield’s historic Washington Ave. Church.

At some point, Tate confided in Peoples to tell her “something on his heart.” Peoples said Tate wanted to create a legacy for students taking his AAS 100 course. They discussed the start of an internship through his class.

For about five years, Peoples was the outreach coordinator for African-American studies.

“It was truly his style of teaching that made his class a popular choice for students,” Peoples said.

Peoples said his class was what it was because he went the extra mile to teach the material. Every semester, the students had an opportunity to go on a weekend trip to visit some historical places of the Civil Rights movement.

They visited the Edmund Pettus Bridge, known as the site of “Bloody Sunday” and historic black churches. The trip wasn’t complete until they enjoyed southern cooking.

“It’s kind of hard for me to explain because he had big shoes to fill, yet a big part of me is him,” Peoples said.

Peoples is hoping to work with the MSU Division for Diversity and Inclusion to get something created in Tate’s memory.

“He made you think because he’s been somewhere you’ve never been. It had a lot to do with the culture at the time when he was growing up. It had to do with how he felt about himself. With the drive that he had…he had to have something that was unbreakable,” Peoples said.

Peoples was with her mentor and pastor during his final days.

After complications with type 2 diabetes, Dr. Maurice Tate died on Sept. 24, 2014 at Springfield’s Mercy Hospital.
On Oct. 4, 2014, his services were attended by family, friends, and students at the Deliverance Temple Ministry.

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