Scholar and Historian Aldon Morris to Present Annual Du Bois Lecture at UMass Amherst

Aldon Morris
Aldon Morris

AMHERST, Mass. – Aldon Morris, author of The Scholar Denied: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology, will give the UMass Amherst Libraries’ 22nd annual Du Bois Lecture on Friday, Feb. 26 at 4 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.

Morris is the Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He is best known for his paradigm-changing research on social movements and in particular his book, The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement, which received several prizes including the American Sociological Association Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award.

Published last year, The Scholar Denied details the role played by Robert E. Park, the white University of Chicago scholar considered to be one of the major architects of modern day sociology, and Booker T. Washington, the most famous and powerful black man in America between 1895 and 1915, in marginalizing the pioneering work that Du Bois and other black scholars produced at Atlanta University, a historically black institution. The book is based on extensive, primary source research and is the result of a decade of research, writing and revision.

“Intellectual schools of thought do not become dominant, prominent and institutionalized just because of the merit of the ideas,” Morris says. “Power, money, politics and the ideology of white supremacy played a major role in which schools of thought took root. That’s also a big story I’m telling in The Scholar Denied.”

“Du Bois produced the first scientific school of modern sociology,” Morris says. “He was into data collection—census data, survey data, interview data and ethnographic data. He did it all. That was a new kind of sociology, and my argument is that Du Bois was the founder of it.”

The Scholar Denied recently won two awards from the Association of American Publishers, Inc.’s Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division: the PROSE Award for Excellence in Social Sciences, in the sociology and social work category, and the 2016 R.R. Hawkins Award.

The UMass Amherst library marks the Feb. 23, 1868 birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois each year with a lecture on a topic relating to his life and legacy. The library was named for Du Bois in 1994 and is home to the extensive W.E.B. Du Bois Papers.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served and copies of The Scholar Denied will be for sale and signing by Morris. The event is co-sponsored by the Randolph and Cecile Bromery Endowment for the W.E.B. Du Bois Center at the UMass Amherst Libraries and the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success.