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Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, Honorary Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies

February 19, 2012

“I determined to put science into sociology through a study of the conditions and problems of my own group.” –Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois

Dr. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois has been posthumously awarded an Honorary Emeritus Professorship of Sociology and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.   This marks the first time that the University’s Board of Trustees has granted such an award. The ceremony to commemorate this occasion was organized in the form of a conference this past Friday, February 17, 2012, on Penn’s campus.  Penn Sociology professor Dr. Tukufu Zuberi led the initiative to have Dr. Du Bois appointed as an honorary professor as well as the conference that brought together academics and panelists from across the country, including the esteemed Harvard University sociologist Dr. Lawerence D. Bobo and Penn’s own Dr. Camille Z. Charles.  There were also panelists from Yale University, Temple University, Clark Atlanta University, Northwestern University, and University of California, Santa Barbara.

Dr. Du Bois, born on February 23, 1868, was notable for a multitude of achievements.  He graduated from Fisk University in 1888, then from Harvard College in 1890.  He then earned his doctorate from Harvard in 1895.  His accomplishments include his influential pieces The Philadelphia Negro and Souls of Black Folk, as well as his co-founding and directing of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  He has been a significant inspiration in many social science fields, including sociology, psychology, Africana studies, history, political science, and anthropology.

In 1896, the University of Pennsylvania appointed Dr. Du Bois to be an “assistant lecturer” in sociology at the Wharton School to study Philadelphia’s Seventh Ward, a predominantly African American population.  Because of racism, and despite his contributions to the academic community of Penn, he was never offered a professorial position, until now, 116 years later.

Click here for Dr. Tukufu Zuberi’s narration of Dr. Du Bois’ intellectual and societal influence.

Chantias Ford, CAS ’14

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