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  • NASW-IL Staff

In Memoriam: Dr. Mikal Nasir Rasheed

Dr. Mikal Nasir Rasheed, a leader in social work education in Illinois, passed away after a brief illness on July 7, 2021. A lifelong activist, Dr. Rasheed was the first African American male to receive a PhD from Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work. He was a participant in the 2004 NASW-Illinois Chapter International Social Work exchange with the city of Durban, South Africa. The NASW-Illinois Chapter recognizes his many contributions to the social work profession.

The following is the obituary distributed at his funeral on July 17, 2021, at Saint Martin de Porres Church in Chicago, IL.

Dr. Mikal Nasir Rasheed, was born on October 7, 1943 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Clarence and Leone (Bryson) Armistead. He died on July 7, 2021 after brief but valiant struggle with Lyphoma.

Dr. Rasheed was born Michael Armistread, and was reared in the Presbyterian religion. Religion has always been a central driving force in his life and he made several “religious stops” along the way – before converting to Catholicism at St. Martin de Porres.

Mikal was their only son, and as a youth he enjoyed participation in the Boys Scouts. Track and Field, and and music. He continued his love love of music and the sport of track and field throughout college-where he was a member of the Millikin University Track team; as well as pledging the Greek music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha (Beta Theta Chapter).

His dream was to study philosophy and was always eager to discover the complexities and mysteries of spirituality. He received his BA from Millikin University in Philosophy in 1965; and an A.M. in Social Work from The University of Chicago, the School of Social Service Administration in 1967, where he met and married Artheline Zahidah (deceased) and they had three children: Michael, Qadeerah and Tareeq. The family eventually converted to Islam in the 1970s.

Mikal held several social work practice and administrative positions her in Chicago and in Houston, Texas, before he began his doctoral studies.

Mikal met his wife, Janice Matthews at an annual national conference for social work Professors (CSWE) and they later married and he returned to Illinois- and they lived in Oak Park with his two step (“bonus”) children – Geneva and Theo.

Later in life he continued his studies and earned a PhD from Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work in 1997. He was the first African-American male to receive a PhD from the School of Social Work at LUCSSW.

Mikal has been a social work faculty member at Texas Southern University (Chair), Aurora University, Northeastern University (Chair) and then become the Director of the MSW-Social Work Program at Chicago State University, from which he retired in 2016. Since then has continued his private clinical practice, specializing in men’s mental health issues and became an adjunct faculty member at Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work after retirement from CSU.

During his academic life he co-authored 5 books with his wife , Janice, including a book that was the first social work practice book on African American men in the United States.

Throughout his social work career he has been devoted to community activism and faith in God. As such, he served on several social service agency and community service Boards, including: the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, EMMAUS Ministries, as well as “Iron Sharpens Iron,” a group of Black men that provides accountable comradeship and to maximize intergenerational collaborations among Black men in Oak Park; as well as being a member of the The St. Peter Claver Society at SMDP.

Mikal’s enthusiasm for music as he learned the art of African drumming from the Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago; he continued taking African drum lessons and regularly performed with the Busa Family-guided by master drummer, Atiba Y. JALI.

Mikal is survived by his wife Janice (Matthews), their five children: Michael (Barbara), Qadeerah (Albert), Tareeq, Geneva & Theo, his five grandchildren, one great granddaughter, his aunt-Theodosia and host of loving cousins.

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