Michael Combs, professor of political science at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, died Aug. 29. He was 69.
Combs was born in New Orleans on Feb. 27, 1950, and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He joined the political science faculty at Nebraska in 1978 after completing his doctorate at Washington University in St. Louis in 1978.
Combs’ research examined African American political behavior, the context of race in the U.S. Supreme Court, and urban politics. He co-authored textbooks on civil liberties and the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as American government. He also published numerous articles focusing on race and its impact on public policy and public opinion.
“Race and Place: Race Relations in an American City,” a book he co-authored that explored racial integration in the suburbs and urban centers, won Best Book on Urban Politics from the American Political Science Association in 2001. Combs also served as president of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.
Combs was a frequent contributor to MLK Week activities on campus, serving as a panelist, keynote speaker and organizer. He was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Fulfilling the Dream Award in 2001, which honored Combs’ continued leadership in promoting the goals and vision of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
His advocacy in the Lincoln and university communities could be seen year-round through various events and discussions he organized, including three Hendricks symposia on affirmative action, the challenges of inclusion and the implications of the election of Barack Obama. He also coordinated a panel discussion following the officer-involved deaths of black men and subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York.
Combs won numerous awards for his teaching, receiving the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Parents’ Association and Teaching Council Award for Contributions to Students nine times during his Nebraska career.
Combs was well-known in the community and served as pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church for more than 30 years.
Combs is survived by his wife of 40 years, Gwendolyn Marizett Combs, associate professor of management and coordinator in the Office of the Vice Chancellor; sons Tremaine M. Combs (Tierra) and Ashton J.M. Combs (Chloe); grandchildren Michael-Eugene, Makenzie, Mary, Leah and David Combs; four brothers and one sister; and many nieces and nephews.
Visitation is 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at Mount Zion Baptist Church, 3301 N. 56th Street, Lincoln. Services are 11 a.m. Sept. 9 at Mount Zion Baptist Church. Memorials to the family and flowers may be sent to Metcalf Funeral and Memorial Services, 245 N. 27th Street, Lincoln, NE 68503. Condolences may be shared here.