Dr. Toni-Mokjaetji C. Humber passed away on May 11, 2023. She was 77 years old. As a native Angeleno, she could trace her family heritage in Los Angeles to the early 1900s.
A celebration of her life was held at on Thursday, June 1, at 11 a.m., at Holman United Methodist Church, 3425 W. Adams Blvd., in Los Angeles.
Dr. Humber was born on January 6, 1946, the second child of Juanita and Jake R. Humber. She attended 96th Street Elementary School, Samuel Gompers Junior High School and graduated from Washington Senior High School. Dr. Humber received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from California State University, Los Angeles, Masters in Education from Loyola Marymount University, and her Doctorate in Sociolinguistics from Howard University.
Growing up in a fast-changing world in the 1950s and 1960s imbued her with the belief that education was vital to achieving justice and equality. She was a woman who was extremely proud of her Blackness and expressed it in her research, her lectures, and her presentations to community groups. When you saw Dr. Humber, you saw flowing robes, Afrocentric jewelry, and a woman always energetic and on the move.
Dr. Humber was a consummate educator, with a lifelong commitment to educating people on African culture and heritage. It was a gift she bestowed on generations of her students, family, and community members. As a Professor Emeritus, she taught in the Ethnic and Women’s Studies Department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona for 20 years. Her research interests focused on African and African American culture and history, the African Diaspora in Mexico, and intercultural communication.
Dr. Humber previously taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 18 years and served as an educational advisor for eight years in the Proficiency in English Program for the Black Learner Who Is Culturally and Linguistically Different, a nationally recognized program addressing the cultural-linguistic legitimacy and needs of Ebonics/African American Vernacular English (AVE) speakers.
A lifelong adventurer, Dr. Humber traveled extensively throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil, Panama, and Mexico. In 1995 as a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar, she traveled to South Africa to observe the social and political transition after Nelson Mandela became President. While in South Africa, she was named Mokjaetji by a Ndebele community meaning Angel, Spirit of Africa.
Dr. Humber’s major research, “Where Black Is Brown: The African Diaspora in Mexico (WBIB),” was developed from her 2003 sabbatical research and subsequent journeys to Mexico. She designed WBIB to further the understanding of African influence and contributions in the Americas and foster greater understanding among African American, Chicano/Latinx, and Indigenous communities about their historical connections.
Over the years, Dr. Humber was honored for her exemplary community service to others by numerous community and professional organizations, including California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, the Council of African American Parents (CAAP) and Our Authors Study Club, Inc. (OASC), the Los Angeles chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc.
Dr. Humber was preceded in death by her parents, Jake Humber and Juanita Goddard, and her older brother, Richard. She is survived by her sister Janet Humber-Ifekwunigwe, nephews Anthony, Justin, Cameron, and niece Simone, extended family, Parker family, friends, and a multitude of colleagues.
She was an integral member of her family, her extended family and her community. She made us laugh and cry, but she always made us feel loved. Her life was a life well lived. Her service to others, optimism that tomorrow will be a better day, commitment to education, passion for making a difference, and her smile will be missed and forever remembered within our hearts.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to:
Dr. Toni Humber Scholarship
Council of African American Parents (CAAP)
23535 Palomino Drive #243
Diamond Bar, CA 91755