In Segregated Scholars Francille Rusan Wilson explores the lives and work of fifteen black labor historians and social scientists as seen through the prisms of gender, class, and time. This collective biography offers complex and vital portraits of these seminal figures, many of whom knew and worked with each other, following them through their educations, their often groundbreaking work in economic and labor studies, and their invaluable public advocacy.
The careers Wilson considers include many of the most brilliant of their eras. She sheds new light on the interplay of the professional and political commitments of W. E. B. Du Bois, Abram L. Harris, Robert C. Weaver, Carter G. Woodson, George E. Haynes, Charles H. Wesley, R. R. Wright Jr.—a succession of scholars bent on replacing myths and stereotypes regarding black labor with rigorous research and analysis.
Equally important is the special emphasis Wilson places on little-known female social scientists such as Gertrude McDougald, Emma Shields Penn, and Elizabeth Haynes. The result is more than simply a balanced picture; it is an act of recovery. Many of Wilson’s portraits are the most extensive available. Their extraordinary lives are an opportunity to examine the ways in which labor history—and, more broadly, women’s and black intellectual history—have developed as separate and parallel discourses and disciplines.
Segregated Scholars makes a crucial and unprecedented contribution to our understanding of the black intellectual heritage, as well as the history of the social sciences, and of many of the practices and policies with which we now live and work.
Francille Rusan Wilson is Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of Maryland.