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As a committed intellectual , concerned educator and loyal citizen,

William Sanders Scarborough served as an ambassador to and for

his race to several generations of people both in the U.S. and abroad.



Books by Michele Valerie Ronnick


Cicero's "Paradoxa Stoicorum"The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough  / The Works of William Sanders Scarborough


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The Works of William Sanders Scarborough

Black Classicist and Race Leader

Edited by Michele Valerie Ronnick


Greetings from Detroit. I am very pleased to tell you that after a decade of work, my comprehensive collection of William Scarborough's writings from the years 1876 to 1926 has been published by Oxford University Press. The book's 560 pages offer us for the first time his published works—a lifetime of writing.  It was cut down from the original 800 pages due to lack of space.  The deleted items were placed in footnotes for the interested reader. I hope that this volume along with Scarborough's autobiography insures that he is never lost from view  again. Best regards, Michele Valerie Ronnick

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William Sanders Scarborough was born a slave in 1852 in Macon, GA. After study at Atlanta University, he earned his B.A. and M.A. from Oberlin College. His Greek textbook (1881) drew national attention. He was a member of the American Philological Association for 44 years, and presented many papers. He was the first black member of the Modern Language Association (1884) and was president of Wilberforce University (1908-1920).

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The first professional classicist of African American descent, William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926) rose from slavery to become president of Wilberforce University in Ohio. Excelling at Latin and Greek, he crossed the color line both socially and intellectually with his entry into a field of study commonly seen as elitist and dominated by white men. Although unknown to classicists today, Scarborough had a distinguished career in the field and held membership in many learned societies and had an active publication record. His life as an engaged intellectual, public citizen, and concerned educator was admired and emulated by W. E. B. Du Bois.

This collection, which spans a half a century from the end of Reconstruction through the vagaries of World War I and the rise of Jim Crow, gives us a window we have not had before into the challenges and ambiguities of this period. As a committed intellectual, concerned educator and loyal citizen, he served as an ambassador to and for his race to several generations of people both in the U.S. and abroad. In Scarborough's writings we have a portrait of a man whose struggle for physical and intellectual freedom can inform us all.

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The first publication of the writings of William Sanders Scarborough: organized by topic, the volume includes speeches, biographies, book introductions, and more; provides insight into this highly engaged intellectual, public citizen, and educator

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"It is a tribute to the industry of Michele Valerie Ronnick that she has gathered in this volume several dozen of Scarborough's many writings: book reviews, essays on politics, scholarly articles, letters to editors, forewords to books, and the texts of some speeches. All of these help fill out the picture of Scarborough as a tireless advocate for justice, one who spoke with care, cognizance of facts, and fearlessness. This is a splendid volume that merits a place in all academic library collections. Ronnick's editorial comments help make Scarborough's writings understandable to a wide readership, and we may hope that she and Oxford [University Press] can locate and publish his correspondence in addition to these writings."Catholic Library World

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Scarborough was the consummate black academic, devoting most of his career to the classroom and to academic administration. . . .  If W. E. B. Du Bois, the antecedent of today's black public intellectuals, himself has an antecedent, it is W. S. Scarborough, the black scholar's scholar.—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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The meticulous scholarship of Michele Valerie Ronnick on William Sanders Scarborough is a deep act of labor and love.  It also is a grand contribution to classical studies.—Cornel West,  Princeton University

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William Sanders Scarborough was an American whom neither  Mark Twain nor Henry James could have imagined, though either  would have been a better writer if he had.  Michele Valerie Ronnick gives us back his deeply, genuinely American voice  and lets him show us an America not many of us could have  imagined without his—and her—help.—James O'Donnell, Provost of Georgetown University

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 Historians of African American history long have recognized  William S. Scarborough's commanding presence as a black  intellectual during the Age of Jim Crow.  Given his  monumental corpus of writings on philology, politics, and  race relations, one wonders just how much more he could have  published had his work not been circumscribed by the veil of  white racism.  Michele Valerie Ronnick's comprehensive anthology of Scarborough's writings will prove immensely valuable to historians, classicists, and to students of African American history.John David Smith, Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of  American History, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Michele Valerie Ronnick has recovered much of the dialogue between African Americans and Classics in the 19th and early  20th centuries, and with an energy and dedication few can  equal. Following close on the heels of her magisterial  edition of Scarborough's memoirs, her new collection of his scholarly and occasional works will be indispensable to  anyone interested in the new and--with no little thanks to  Prof. Ronnickrapidly expanding study of African American writers and the Classical tradition.James Tatum,  Dartmouth College.

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Michele Valerie Ronnick is Professor in the Department of Classics, Greek and Latin at Wayne State University. A Latinist by training with a book on Cicero's Stoic Paradoxes, she has published widely in journals here and abroad and has won a number of professional awards for excellence in scholarship, teaching and service on regional and national levels. Ronnick's special interest in the Classical Tradition led her to open up a new subfield of reception studies, Classica Africana, a.k.a. black classicism, which examines the influence of classics upon the creative and professional lives of people of African descent. She is the editor of a critical edition of The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough.

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Practice and Perception of Black Classicism

Howard  is the only historically black college that has had a classics program since its inception . . .—A Shift in Direction at Howard

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Frank Snowden Now An Ancestor

Major Scholar of Blacks in Antiquity


Frank M. Snowden Jr. passed away on February 18 of this year in Washington, D.C., after a long and celebrated life in a variety of professional vocations—instructor, scholar, administrator, diplomat. The classics world can justifiably claim that it has lost one of its giants. Professor Snowden graduated from the Boston Latin School in 1928 and proceeded to Harvard University, where he was awarded his bachelor's (1932), master's (1933), and doctoral (1944) degrees in classics.

He began his professional career as an instructor in Latin, French, and English at Virginia State College (1933–1936) and then moved to Spelman College and Atlanta University, where he was an instructor in classics (1936–1940). From then until 1990 he was a member of the faculty at Howard University  . . . . —WashingtonPost

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans. The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection.

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel.

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The White Masters of the World

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By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 21 November 2007




Home  Wilson Jeremiah Moses

Related  files: The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough   The Works of William Sanders Scarborough  Practice and Perception of Black Classicism

Celebrating Alexander Crummell   Classicism within Black Consciousness   Frank Snowden Now An Ancestor  Ten Vital Principles for Black Education  

Black Nationalism in America  Albert Murray on Ralph Ellison Aesthetics   What America Would Be Like Without Negroes  The Omni Americans Excerpts