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W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology
A new study of the origins of sociology in this country will be published this summer. Here is an introduction by the author with praise from other black scholars.
By Aldon D. Morris
Editor's Note: Anyone who actually tries to study racism in this country knows how deeply it affects everything, including knowledge production. The contributions of black scholars have not been recognized as they should have been. My major in college was sociology and I have continued to read books on social theory over the years, especially critical social theory and the sociology of religion. So it is of interest to hear of a new book which seeks to demonstrate that W. E. B. Du Bois should be considered the father of modern sociology in the American context. In the piece below the author of the book, Aldon D. Morris, introduces his book to the Association of Black Scholars (ABS).
It pleases my soul to report to you my new book, The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology, published by the University of California Press, will be officially released this August. It can be pre-ordered on line now at Amazon.
It has taken me more than a decade to research and write this book. Its main thesis is that American scientific sociology was founded by a Black scholar and his colleagues who joined him at a historically Black college. Scientific sociology was founded by W. E. B. Du Bois and his colleagues at Atlanta University at the turn of the twentieth century. This thesis directly contradicts the standard narrative that scientific sociology was founded by elite white male scholars, especially those at the University of Chicago. I support this thesis with extensive documentation much of which has not been known previously. This is a saga about how racism, power, and money, marginalized Du Bois and his school and successfully hid the truth about the real founder of scientific sociology and the superior scholarship of his school for over a century.
My hope is that The Scholar Denied will generate a new debate about how knowledge is produced and diffused throughout society. Let me share some assessments of the book by several prominent Scholars:
“In The Scholar Denied, Aldon Morris tests, and convincingly proves, the belief, too long repressed, that W. E. B. Du Bois played not only a pivotal role in the birth of modern scientific sociology in America—he was its founding father, on either side of the color line. Toppling prevailing truths like the towering genius at the center of this development, Morris’s account offers a fresh and crisply researched reinterpretation of Du Bois’s path-breaking Atlanta School of Sociology and is sure to be a major book.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
"Aldon Morris’s The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology is one of those landmark studies that changes the way we think about a historical occurrence. This well written book is replete with original insights that challenge conventional wisdom on the origins and development of American sociology. Morris’s meticulous scholarship, based on a careful analysis of revealing primary documents as well as secondary sources, details fascinating and new information regarding Du Bois’s seminal role in the development of scientific sociology and his relationships with Booker T. Washington, Robert Park, and other members of the Chicago School, and the preeminent social scientist Max Weber. The Scholar Denied is a must-read for those interested in how race, power, and economics determine the fate of intellectual schools."—William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University
“Aldon Morris has given us a great gift: the truth of Du Bois’s genius and America’s denial of it! Don’t miss this pioneering text!”—Cornel West
“I love it [The Scholar Denied], can't put it down! Your account is so real to me!” Distinguished Professor, Graduate Center of the City University of New York--Frances Fox Piven
I want to thank my colleagues in ABS for helping to sustain me intellectually and socially for decades. Of course, when it comes to Du Bois and sociology, there are no scholars who understand this topic with the depths of ABSers. I want to single out the contributions made by our own Earl Wright II, regarding Du Bois’s pivotal role as a sociological pioneer. Crediting his contributions, I write in the preface of The Scholar Denied:
"This book has benefitted greatly from research, on the pioneering nature of Du Bois’ sociological scholarship, conducted by the sociologist Earl Wright II. In a series of articles, Wright has conducted basic research arguing that Du Bois founded the first school of American Sociology. He has described the contours of the Sociological Laboratory established by Du Bois at the turn of the twentieth century at Atlanta University. Wright has also explored the empirical methodologies Du Bois pioneered and sheds light on some of the scholars and researchers that contributed to Du Bois’ school of sociology. Although my book goes far beyond Wright’s efforts and differs substantially in many respects, his work has served as a foundational resource which has been enormously valuable to this book."
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