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

Alcorn State University Announces Unique STEM-Focused MBA Degree Program

The new STEM-MBA program at Alcorn State, the first of its kind in the state of Mississippi, will prepare students to become business leaders in STEM industries through courses on foundational STEM and business concepts, as well as data analysis and strategic decision-making.

Five Black Women Who Have Been Appointed to Dean Positions at Universities Across the United States

Here is this week’s roundup of African Americans who have been appointed to dean positions at universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to contact@jbhe.com.

PNC Partners With Howard University to Empower Black Entrepreneurship

The Howard University and PNC National Center for Entrepreneurship aims to support and educate Black entrepreneurs from across the country. The collaborative initiative includes three other HBCU partners: Morgan State University, Clark Atlanta University, and Texas Southern University.

Saida Grundy Wins Race, Gender, and Class Book Award From the American Sociology Association

Dr. Grundy's book, Respectable: Politics and Paradox in Making the Morehouse Man, explores the culture and experiences of graduates from Morehouse College in Atlanta, the country's only historically Black college for men.

Featured Jobs