Remembering the Work of Early Black Classicists

Fifteen years ago,  Michele Valerie Ronnick, now a full professor in the department of classical and modern languages and literatures at Wayne State University in Detroit, authored a photographic historical essay on early African American scholars in the classics that appeared in the pages of The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. Her research, and that of other scholars, brought to light the pioneering work of these African American scholars, many of whom had been forgotten in the annals of Black academic achievement. Since that time a photographic exhibit of 15 Black classicists has appeared around the country, most recently at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.

Among the Black scholars featured in the exhibit is William Sanders Scarborough, who was born into slavery. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1881 he authored the textbook First Lessons in Greek. Scarborough was a member of the Philological Association for 44 years and in 1884 became the first African American member of the Modern Language Association. Scarborough served as president of Wilberforce University in Ohio from 1908 to 1920.

Professor Ronnick went on to edit two books on Scarborough: The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough: An American Journey from Slavery to Scholarship (Wayne State University Press, 2005) and The Works of William Sanders Scarborough: Black Classicist and Race Leader (Oxford University Press, 2006).

In January, Bolchazy Carducci Publishers is reprinting Scarborough’s 1881 textbook First Lessons in Greek with an introduction by Professor Ronnick. The cover of the new addition resembles the original nineteenth-century edition.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Who Have Been Appointed to Diversity Posts in Higher Education

Terrence Mitchell was appointed executive director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. Faye Belgrave has been named vice president and chief diversity officer at Virginia Commonwealth University and Tammy Bennett is the inaugural vice president for inclusive excellence in philanthropy at the University of Cincinnati Foundation.

Federal Government Calls on States to End Funding Disparities at Black Land-Grant Universities

The federal government sent letters to 16 governors emphasizing the over $12 billion disparity in funding between land-grant Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and their non-HBCU land-grant peers in their states. Unequitable appropriated funding of the 1890 institutions in the states ranges from $172 million to $2.1 billion.

A Trio of Black Scholars in New Faculty Roles at Universities

The City College of New York has appointed Jervette R. Ward as director of the Black Studies Program. Scotti Branton is a new assistant professor of communication at the University of Arkansas, and professor Danille Taylor was appointed director of the Clark Atlanta University Art Museum.

Shaw University to Expand Its Presence to Research Triangle Park

The collaboration will secure Shaw University a dedicated office space within Frontier RTP innovation campus, located in the heart of the city's new vibrant downtown area. The space will include private offices and an administrative area dedicated to Shaw University, as well as classroom space.

Featured Jobs