In February (Black History Month), the Center for Africana Studies and the Department of Sociology honored W.E.B. Du Bois, the first black professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, with a conference honoring his life and scholarship. As a former African-American Studies major, this was the perfect occasion for Penn to acknowledge his accomplishments. Du Bois was the black public intellectual of the 20th century; he was a scholar, civil rights activist, author, editor, pacifist, and Pan Africanist. During his time at Penn, he published his second significant monogram, The Philadelphia Negro. This groundbreaking publication was one of the first publications to use social statistics to analyze urban communities. It was also the first scientific study of African Americans. After the conference, the university later bestowed Du Bois with the title of Honorary Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Africana Studies. Posthumously, of course.The conference and professorship will honor Du Bois’ considerable contributions to several fields of study—contributions that were fostered at Penn, when he worked as an assistant in sociology at Wharton from August of 1896 through December of 1897. During that time, Du Bois researched and wrote “The Philadelphia Negro,” a social scientific study of the black community in the city.EXTRA: There's also an excellent Chronicle article about my alma mater's African American Studies program and how a new generation of doctoral students are advancing the discipline. I majored in African-American Studies at Northwestern, so I'm proud to hear great news about the department.
read more: Penn Video: Honoring W.E.B. Du Bois in 2012