Josephus Olufemi “Femi” Richards, professor emeritus of Afro-American studies, died on Sunday, Feb. 3.
Born on March 17, 1942 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, he moved to the U.S. in 1967.
Before moving to the U.S., he received his bachelor’s degree from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria in 1967 and then a Ph.D. in art and architectural history from Northwestern University in 1970. He moved to Amherst to become an associate professor in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts a year later. He retired as a professor in 2002. In his career, he also taught at the University of Lagos and the University of North Carolina. His fieldwork and research in African arts and the cultural institutions that propagate them led to numerous awards and his publications have been published in Germany, Canada, Israel and here in the US. Additionally, he was a professional textile designer with his creations owned by clients all over the world and exhibited in museums in the U.S. and Africa.
He is survived by his wife Laura Richards and his children and their spouses: Femi and wife Nettie, Shola and wife Amber, and Doyin and wife Mariko. His brothers Victor and Zach predeceased him, and he is survived by his sister Catherine, his brother Tunji and his sisters-in-law Joy and Fola.
In keeping with his wishes, there will be a private funeral and burial service.