Dr. Lawrence J. Hanks, Sr. an Indiana University Professor of Political Science, passed away at his Bloomington residence on Thursday, November 10, 2011 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was fifty seven years old.
From 1993 to 1998, Dr. Hanks served as the Dean for the Office of African American Affairs and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. As Dean, he led the university's efforts to improve recruitment and retention of black faculty and students. He also institutionalized a variety of programs including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration that continues to be a vital part of campus life. At the end of his Deanship, he focused solely on teaching and research in the Political Science Department. His primary interest was African American Political Thought and African American Politics. Prior to coming to Indiana University, Dr. Hanks serve as Chairman of the Department of Political Science at the historic Tuskegee University in Alabama. During his career, he was also invited by several academic institutions to serve in visiting professorial positions, including the University of Kentucky.
As a 1976 Magna Cum Laude graduate of the Atlanta based Morehouse College, Dr. Hanks entered Harvard University's Department of Government, from where he earned his M.A. degree in Government in 1978, and his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Government in 1984. At Harvard, he specialized in African American Politics, Minority Politics, Political Philosophy and African American Political Thought, the area in which he taught since 1984.
Dr. Hanks was nationally recognized as a scholar, a passionate teacher and a motivational speaker. In addition to his seminal work, Black Political Empowerment in Three Georgia Counties, he was also co-editor of the Black and Multiracial Politics in America. He also authored scores of journal articles, essays, book reviews, book chapters, and popular publications. His trade publications included 365 Days of Kwanzaa: A Daily Motivational Reader; Daily Fruit: 365 Days of Fruit of the Spirit and Blessings and Bush Arbors.
As a passionate researcher, Dr. Hanks' diverse research interests included black political empowerment, African-American political thought and action, race and politics and the politics of difference. He was an avid believer in the power of positive thought and healthy living; hence he was passionate about optimizing one's human potential. Recognizing some of the keys to success, he explicated them with passion. As a motivational speaker, he was known by his audiences to have brought clarity and passion to his presentations. On the Indiana University campus, Dr. Hanks mentored students and junior faculty members, and he and his wife, Diane used their home as a venue to welcome and encourage a sense of community for many in the Bloomington and Indianapolis area.
He was an active volunteer for varied causes. Nationally, he served as a Reviewer for and Consultant to the National Endowment for Humanities; U.S. Department of Justice (1984) and several state-wide organizations in his native Georgia and Alabama. Apart from extensively traveling in the U.S. for research and lectureship purposes, Dr. Hanks was a member of the "People to People" United States delegation to Russia, China and Poland.
Dr. Hanks was a devoted life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. ( initiated into Pi Chapter at Morehouse College November 19, 1973). His professional organization memberships included the American Political Science Association (APSA), Southern Political Science Association, and the National Council of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS).
Dr. Hanks and his family have been long-standing members of Second Baptist Church in Bloomington, Indiana, pastored by Rev. Dr. Bruce Rose. He was a faithful member of the Sunday school class and, during his illness; he boldly declared his strong belief in Jesus Christ as His Lord and personal Savior. He was also instrumental in providing strong leadership for the men's ministry. Above all, Dr. Hanks was a devoted husband and father, who loved and cherished his family.
Dr. Hanks was preceded in death by his parents (Mr. and Mrs. James "Jethro" Hanks. He is survived by his beloved wife and queen, Mrs. Diane G. Hanks, Assistant Principal of Tri-North Middle School, Bloomington; his beloved mother-in-law, who he fondly called, " Mother Eunice" of the home; his children, Shonda (Yohancé) Hanks of Kennesaw, Georgia, Lawrence J. Hanks, II of Bloomington, Indiana, Latoysha J. Brown of Bloomington, Indiana and Mahogany A. Hanks of Atlanta, Georgia. His loving siblings, Frances (Edmond) Cook of Atlanta, Georgia, Carolyn Holley of Atlanta, Georgia, Hasan Hanks of Fort Gaines, Georgia and Paul Hanks of Auburn, California; two special aunts- Marie Stephens of Brooklyn, New York and Susan Williams of Blakely, Georgia, two sister in laws- Shirley (Leon) Powell of Boston, Massachusetts, Betty (Steven) Williams of Northborough, Massachusetts, brother in law, Joseph Gordon of Johnson City, Tennessee; four nieces- LaShaun (Greg) Buckhalter of Atlanta, Georgia, Alison (Derrick) Davis of Fairfield, California, YaTonka Watson of Cheraw, South Carolina, Indy Gordon of Clinton, North Carolina, Tamara Gordon of Boston, Massachusetts; five nephews, Jeffrey (Apryl) Holley of Atlanta and Demetrius (LaSherri) Holley of Atlanta, Georgia; Jonathan Gordon of Boston, Massachusetts, Derrick Gordon of North Carolina and Jeremy Gordon of Durham, North Carolina; Godparents- Louis and Estella Stovall of Cleveland, Ohio; God-daughter, Clarisa (Vincent) Isom of Bloomington, Indiana, his professional colleagues and many many dear friends from across the United States.
The Funeral will be at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at Whittenberger Auditorium at 900 E. 7th St & Woodlawn on the I.U. Campus with the Rev. Dr. Bruce Rose officiating. Friends may visit the family at Day Funeral Home, 4150 E. 3rd St. on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 3:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.. Dr. Hanks will be Funeralized Saturday, November 19, 2011 at the the Chattahoochie Association Building in Ft. Gaines, GA. under the direction of Lewis Mortuary.
Online condolences may be made to the family at www.dayfuneralservices.com
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be directed to the Dr. Lawrence J. Hanks, Sr. Memorial Scholarship Fund at Morehouse College.