Remembering James McLeod and the Rise of Black Studies at Washington University

Remembering James McLeod and the Rise of Black Studies at Washington University

Gerald Early, the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and Former Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies - 2021 James E. McLeod Memorial Lecture on Higher Education

Given the conditions of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this event will be staged in a hybrid format. All are invited to attend virtually via Zoom, and we hope members of the Washington University community who are able will attend in person. In-person attendance is limited by seating capacity. 

To register via Zoom, follow this link.

To register for in-person attendance (WashU only), follow this link or click the RSVP button below.


AFAS colleagues Jean Allman and Jonathan Fenderson interview Gerald Early in this lecture preview: Gerald Early on Black studies at WashU and one of its early champions.

GERALD EARLY is an award-winning essayist, author, and editor. He has served as a commentator for NPR and as a consultant for multiple documentaries with Ken Burns. Currently, Early is finishing a book about Fisk University.

Early is the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters in the African and African American Studies Department at Washington University in St. Louis, where he has taught since 1982. He also has courtesy appointment in the American Culture Studies Programs and the English Department at Washington University. He earned an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in English and American literature from Cornell University.

He is the immediate past chair of the Department of African and African American Studies, serving from 2014 to 2021. He had previously served as director of the African and African American Studies Program from 1992 to 1999. He has also served as the director of the American Culture Studies Program, and was the founding director of the Center for the Humanities. He is also the executive editor of The Common Reader, Washington University’s interdisciplinary journal that is published under the auspices of the Provost. 

Early is a noted essayist and American culture critic. His collections of essays include Tuxedo Junction: Essays on American Culture (1989); The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, which won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism; This is Where I Came In: Essays on Black America in the 1960s (2003), and, most recently, A Level Playing Field: African American Athletes and the Republic of Sports (2011). He is also the author of Daughters: On Family and Fatherhood (1994). He was twice nominated for Grammy Awards for writing album liner notes, of which Early has written many including Black Power: Music of a Revolution (2004), Miles Davis, Kind of Blue: 50th Anniversary (2009), Q: The Musical Biography of Quincy Jones (2001), Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection (2007), Motown: The Complete Motown Singles, Volume 2: 1962, The Sammy Davis Jr. Story (1999), and Rhapsodies in Black: Music and Words from the Harlem Renaissance (2000).

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