Dr. James Eaton, founder of the Black Archives, passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 74. Tuesday, friends and colleagues reminisced about his endless contributions to FAMU and black history.
Dr. James Eaton came to FAMU in 1958, and even back then a little boy named Fred Gainous took notice.
Fred Gainous, FAMU President, says, “My relationship started before I even came to FAMU. He visited my house when my sister was in his class and he actually made house calls.”
Eaton's care for his students probably led to his being awarded most outstanding teacher of the year 25 times out of his 44 years at FAMU, but it's a certain building that has grabbed not only the hearts, but the respect of many.
Dr. Aubrey Perry, a longtime friend and co-worker, says, “No one could ever come to visit me without taking a look at the Black Archives.”
In 1975 Eaton founded the Black Archives which evolved into the Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum.
Dr. Leedell Neyland, who worked closely with Eaton, says, “Whether you like black history, when you talk to Dr. Eaton you saw its worth and its meaning and I've seen people come in and cry.”
Filled with documents and artifacts, faculty say his goal was to put black history where it belonged, as a part of American history.
“We will surely miss him, but I say our lives were truly enhanced because of his presence.”
Dr. Eaton passed away at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning from heart failure. His five children say he was and always will be their hero.