Jump to Content Jump to Main Navigation

Anthropology St. Clair Drake
by
Aimee Meredith Cox

Introduction

John Gibbs St. Clair Drake’s groundbreaking scholarship continues to be highly influential in the theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches used in research on African Americans, urban poverty, community transformation and development, social organization, and social justice. Although St. Clair Drake was educated and trained as an anthropologist, contemporary discussions of Drake’s research most often align him with sociology. The work hailed as St. Clair Drake’s greatest achievement, Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (1945), written with Horace R. Cayton, emerged from, while expanding upon, the quantitative and ethnographic tradition of The Chicago School of Sociology. William Julius Wilson, one of the most prolific and prominent sociologists of the past four decades, studies the same Bronzeville communities in Chicago that are the focus of Black Metropolis and uses Drake’s analysis of the impact of economic and social conditions on urban working and low-income African Americans during the latter part of the 1930s to 1940s to track and historically contextualize his research starting in the 1970s. In addition to his research and publications, St. Clair Drake had a profound impact on the formal institutionalization of African American studies as a discipline within higher education. Beginning with Roosevelt University in Chicago, where he was a member of the faculty from 1946 to 1968, to his founding of the African and African American Studies department at Stanford University, Drake demonstrated the importance of establishing sustainable institutions that are specifically designed to attend to research related to the history of, cultural productions within, and social dynamics of communities of the African diaspora. Drake is also credited with formulating groundbreaking research and social commentary on Pan-Africanism that has influenced the ways anthropologists and black studies scholars theorize the African diaspora. The many academics, across disciplines, influenced by Drake’s research and practice consider him a model of intellectualism that can be active and praxis oriented. Drake has defined himself as an activist anthropologist interested in using the tools of anthropology for the goal of black liberation. In an in-depth interview with George Clement Bond (Bond 1988, cited under General Overviews) Drake is quoted as saying, “Had I not been black, I would have been a very different kind of anthropologist” (p. 780). His scholarship sought to intervene both theoretically in the status quo of academic discourse on race, urban communities of color, US and African relations, and anthropology, as well as within the everyday lived experiences of African descendents.

General Overviews

From the following overview accounts of Drake’s personal, academic, and activist life, the reader gains the clear sense that these realms were not isolated spaces but well integrated and formed the holistic way Drake envisioned praxis-oriented intellectualism. The social justice foundation of Drake’s anthropology can be traced to his connection to theology and the theories of peace that he was exposed to during the year he spent attending Quaker graduate school outside of Philadelphia and teaching at the Quaker high school associated with the Society of Friends. Baber 1999, Bond 1988, and Jordan 1982 talk extensively about this experience and how other experiences, such as his introduction to protest politics at Hampton Institute (now University) cultivated in Drake the belief that his research and writing must address inequalities rooted in race, class, and caste. In Bond 1988 we get a sense of how Drake himself felt about his fieldwork for Deep South in Mississippi with Allison Davis who would turn out to be his longtime mentor and advocate. Harrison 2008 includes a discussion of Drake’s Pan-Africanism while theorizing the ways in which his work and writing on the global black community has influenced the development of contemporary black diaspora studies. Harrison 1988 also discusses Drake’s enduring impact on diaspora across disciplines, while additionally considering Drake’s impact on urban anthropological theory and methods. Written by a former mentee of Drake’s, Jordan 1982 provides a critical reading of four of Drake’s most prominent works: Black Metropolis; Value Systems, Social Structure and Race Relations in the British Isle; Africa and the Black Diaspora; and Black Folk Here and There: An Essay in Comparative History and Anthropology. Jordan 1990 is a concise overview of Drake’s scholarly activism as mentorship. Baber’s chapter on Drake in the edited volume African American Pioneers in Anthropology (Baber 1999), the interview in Bond 1988, and the St. Clair Drake website trace Drake’s life from his childhood in Virginia and education at the Booker T. Washington High School and move through his fieldwork in the south with Davis, teaching and institution-building at Dilliard, Roosevelt, and Stanford Universities, research and activism in Africa, writing of Black Metropolis and graduate studies at the University of Chicago, dissertation fieldwork at Tiger Bay in Cardiff Wales, establishment of the program in African and African American Studies at Stanford, and ongoing projects investigating race relations and black liberation.

  • Baber, Willie L. 1999. St. Clair Drake: Scholar and activist. In African-American pioneers in anthropology. Edited by Ira E. Harrison and Faye V. Harrison, 191–212. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Baber analyzes Drake’s connection to theology and how his connection to religion impacted his trajectory as a vindicationist scholar, or a scholar committed to countering racist ideas and race-based oppression. Includes sections on Drake’s early influences as an undergraduate and graduate student; his fieldwork with Allison Davis in Mississippi; commitment to Pan-Africanism and work in Africa; work on Black Metropolis; and enduring impact on scholars.

    Find this resource:

  • Bond, George Clement. 1988. A social portrait of John Gibbs St. Clair Drake: An American anthropologist. American Ethnologist 15.4: 762–781.

    DOI: 10.1525/ae.1988.15.4.02a00110Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Gives insight into various influences in Drake’s life and how each played a critical role in Drake’s development as a self-defined activist anthropologist. The wide-ranging influences in Drake’s work include his Southern Baptist upbringing, time studying and teaching with Quakers, experiences in Africa, Radcliffe-Brown’s structural functionalism, and his many mentors and colleagues within the fields of anthropology, sociology, and African and African American studies.

    Find this resource:

  • Drake, St. Clair. Papers, Sc MG 309. Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The Schomburg Center houses 309 boxes of Drake’s unpublished works spanning the years 1935–1990. These works include correspondence, office files, writing, research notes and materials, and information on foundations and organizations. There is unrestricted access to these papers, which were a gift from St. Clair Drake. The works cover Drake’s biography, his career as educator, scholar, and activist and span his work in the United States, Ghana, Liberia, and Britain.

    Find this resource:

    • Harrison, Faye. 1988. An African diaspora perspective for urban anthropology. Special issue: Black folks in cities here and there—Changing patterns of discrimination and response. Urban Anthropology 17.2–3: 111–141.

      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      In this special edition in honor of St. Clair Drake, Harrison’s introduction offers a broad lens on the legacy of Drake’s work including the influence of Black Metropolis on urban anthropology, his work the Deep South (Davis, et al. 1941 as cited in Influences and Early Work) and his contributions to contemporary interdisciplinary work on diaspora.

      Find this resource:

    • Harrison, Faye. 2008. Outsider within: Reworking anthropology in the global age. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A compilation of theoretical essays on what Harrison terms an alternative anthropology that corrects and moves beyond its problematic history. Harrison offers a discussion of Drake’s anticolonialist praxis and the importance of storytelling to his pedagogy and mentoring style. Harrison additionally considers the impact of Black Metropolis and the ways in which both this work and Deep South (Davis, et al. 1941 as cited in Influences and Early Work) foreshadowed later work on the social construction of race.

      Find this resource:

    • Jordan, Glenn H. 1982. Reading St. Clair Drake: A methodological essay with a focus on Black Metropolis. Afro Scholar Working Papers. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois.

      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Offers a summary of each major work, situates each within the context of Drake’s scholarly agenda, and provides a critical analysis of the gaps, silences, and unstated assumptions across these four texts. The appendices also offer valuable information that include the monographs prepared for Black Metropolis, a comprehensive “autobiosketch” of Drake’s life, a bibliography of his published and unpublished writing, and the table of contents from his major texts.

      Find this resource:

    • Jordan, Glenn H. 1990. On being a committed intellectual: St. Clair Drake and the politics of anthropology. Transforming Anthropology 1.2: 15–18.

      DOI: 10.1525/tran.1990.1.2.15Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      In this short reflective piece, Jordan details how Drake influenced his development as a social scientist interested in anthropology as a method for liberating others. This essay provides further important insight into the ways in which Drake’s integration of the academic and the socially just influenced the professional trajectories and theoretical approaches taken by a subsequent generation of anthropologists.

      Find this resource:

    • St. Clair Drake.

      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      This website edited by Abdul Alkalimat is both a tribute to St. Clair Drake and a comprehensive site that compiles a bibliography of Drake’s central writings as well as writing about Drake and his work (with links to the majority of the articles listed), a gallery of photographs, and an introduction that outlines the hallmarks of Drake’s personal and academic life. Included in this website are two videos of St. Clair Drake.

      Find this resource:

      Influences and Early Work

      Drake’s early work and influences represent diverse engagements under the broad umbrella of race, ideology, and power. Edward Wilmot Blyden influenced both Drake’s early interest in anthropology and later activist-oriented writing and work in the United States and abroad. A large portion of Blyden’s intellectual projects, including Blyden 1857, was devoted to disproving theories of African inferiority. Drake would carry this vindicationist approach with him throughout his career as an educator and anthropologist. In fact, Drake believed that the tools of anthropology were well suited to empowering the African descendents through a deeper and more realistic understanding of black life and culture, as well as the role structural racism plays in denigrating black life. W. Allison Davis was Drake’s longtime mentor, friend, and advocate. Davis, et al. 1941 is an ethnographic study of race and class in Mississippi heralded as one of the most thorough explorations of caste in the United States during that time. Davis invited Drake to join the research team after the fieldwork process had begun when it was realized that an investigator was needed to document the experiences of lower-class blacks. Davis and the other researchers were already well immersed in the white and middle-class black communities. Drake would take the methodological lessons of qualitative research and building community trust with him in subsequent research projects, notably his dissertation project investigating race relations in Cardiff, Wales (see Drake 1954), and later during work on Black Metropolis. Davis’s influence on Drake’s work can also be seen in his article (see Davis 1945) on caste, the economic system, and violence in the South. Here, Davis demonstrates the connection between racialized violence and the perception of African American social and economic advancement. This work exemplifies the attention to the continually shifting factors that impact race relations in the United States, a theoretical hallmark of much of Drake’s extensive body of work. Another significant influence of Drake’s is Karl Mannheim. Drake cites Mannheim 1936 as providing theoretical validation for his activist oriented scholarship. Both Drake’s early work as well as the writing and research of others established the foundation for Drake’s prolific publications on the impact of race, ideologies of race, race relations, and the social construction of race in the lives of African descendents throughout the diaspora.

      • Blyden, Edward Wilmot. 1857. A vindication of the African race: Being a brief examination of the arguments in favor of African inferiority. Monrovia, Liberia: G. Killian.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Edward W. Blyden’s work influenced Drake to utilize the tools of anthropology to respond to racist theories that promoted African inferiority. Blyden is also regarded as the father of Pan-Africanism. In this book Blyden develops a theoretical argument to counter prevailing academic and popular assumptions of African inferiority.

        Find this resource:

      • Davis, Allison. 1945. Caste, economy, and violence. American Journal of Sociology 51.1: 7–15.

        DOI: 10.1086/219708Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Davis sought to demonstrate that racial caste in the South defines all interactions between whites and blacks and incorporates the social, political, educational, sexual, and religious. He also argues in this article that increased conflict between blacks and whites indicates that blacks are making progress economically.

        Find this resource:

      • Davis, Allison, Burleigh B. Gardner, and Mary R. Gardner. 1941. Deep South: A social anthropological study of caste and class. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Drake joined the research team of Davis, Gardner, and Gardner three years after the start of the Deep South project and was primarily recruited to study the lower-class black community in Natchez, Mississippi. The cooperation Drake witnessed between blacks and whites while conducting fieldwork contributed to his interest in the intersection between race (conceptualized as caste) and class.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1954. Value systems, social structure, and race relations in the British Isles. PhD diss., Univ. of Chicago.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Drake’s dissertation is based on a year of research among a multiethnic community of seamen in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales, placing this community in the larger context of the African diaspora. This research was funded by the Rosenwald Foundation and was theoretically influenced by Radcliffe-Brown’s structural-functionalism. Drake is quoted as saying that he believed this work, although contracted but never published, contributed to race relations theory.

        Find this resource:

      • Mannheim, Karl. 1936. Ideology and utopia: An introduction to the sociology of knowledge. Edited and translated by Louis Wirth and Edward Shils. New York: Harcourt Brace.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        In this classic work, which was widely debated in Germany, Mannheim introduces the field he is created with establishing: the sociology of knowledge. He also argues that ideology originates from class stratification and “has no moral or denunciatory intent.”

        Find this resource:

      Race and Race Relations in the United States and Abroad

      In “The International Impact of Race and Race Relations” (Drake 1951) Drake considers how racism in the United States shapes the nation’s international reputation and threatens its status as a world power. Here we see the hypocrisy of racism as it plays out beyond the borders of the nation-state. In a much later article written for The Nation (Drake 1975), Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s appointment as US ambassador to the United Nations causes Drake to reflect on how Moynihan’s historically conflicted relationship with blacks in the United States may impact his work internationally, and to contextualize the potential symbolic and material consequences of his appointment. The question of group identity-based conflict is, for Drake, not confined to black and white race relations in the United States. He was also interested in understanding the nature of ethnic- and tribal-based conflicts in Africa. In “Some Observations on Interethnic Conflict as One Type of Intergroup Conflict” (Drake 1957) he explores the catalysts and potential remedies of interethnic conflict in Africa with a focus on the role anthropology has historically played (and continues to play) in developing action-oriented responses to the various iterations of conflict that emerge in and beyond Africa. Drake worked cooperatively with national, state, and local organizations to offer his expertise on African American culture and race and class in the United States, a topic on which he wrote extensively in Drake 1987 and Drake 1990. An example of these collaborations is Drake’s partnership with the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (see Drake 1963). Drake’s anthropological lens provides a perspective through which the dynamics of race and class in the United States can be understood at the local level. Within his critiques of race in the United States, we witness Drake wrestling with the ideals of democracy as they relate to African descendents in the United States and the contradictions of liberty and freedom established through enslavement and oppression. In a series of three lectures given as part of the Emancipation Proclamation Centennial Lectures at Roosevelt University, Drake interrogates the contradictions in the American Dream as it pertains to African Americans by questioning African American’s relationship to educational attainment and access and inclusion in all other areas of social, political, and economic life in the US nation-state. It is impossible to adequately discuss the nature of race relations and the structure of the African American community without considering intergenerational factors and the significance of youth culture. In Drake 1967a and Drake 1967b, we are introduced to Drake’s thoughts on black youth through his contribution to the work of his contemporaries, E. Franklin Frazier and Charles Johnson. The inclusion of Drake in both of these works demonstrates his importance and legibility outside of anthropology as an important influence in urban sociology. Frazier was a sociologist whose work centered around the black family and class stratifications in the black community. Johnson was also a sociologist, and the first president of Fisk University, interested, like Drake, in improving the social, economic, and political conditions of African descendents in the United States and internationally.

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1951. The international implications of race and race relations. In Special issue: The American Negro and civil rights. Edited by C. H. Thompson. Journal of Negro Education 20.3: 261–278.

        DOI: 10.2307/2966002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Explores the impact of race discrimination and racist practices in the United States on the international stage, as the United States situates itself in the role of “world power.” Pan-African and Pan-Asian responses are also discussed as counters to European imperialism. Drake additionally compares South African apartheid to US race relations, as well as how ideologies of white supremacy and racial exclusion will have to be addressed by the United Nations.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St Clair. 1957. Some observations on interethnic conflict as one type of intergroup conflict. Approaches to the Study of Social Conflict: A Colloquium. Conflict Resolution. 1.2: 155–178.

        DOI: 10.1177/002200275700100205Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Considers the tensions between ethnic allegiance and political allegiance to the nation state through a concentrated focus on various types of interethnic conflict in Africa. Includes a historical analysis of anthropological approaches and contributions to the study of interethnic conflict as well as definitions of the various iterations of conflict. Additionally offers interethnic conflict in Kenya as a case study, reflecting on possible resolutions.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1963. The American dream and the Negro: 100 years of freedom? Three lectures. The Emancipation Proclamation Centennial Lectures. Chicago: Roosevelt University.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        In these lectures Drake considers the changing content of the American Dream as it relates to the status and progress of African Americans. The first lecture focuses on the nature of emancipation beyond the legalities of freedom, the second lecture focuses on education, and the third lecture on integration.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1967a. Introduction. In Negro youth at the crossways: Their personality in the middle states. Edited by Edward Franklin Frazier. New York: Schocken Books.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Drake and Frazier were both interested in the shifting nature of black life propelled by forces such as migration, racial discrimination, education, employment access, and family structures. Drake focused on churches and voluntary associations since Frazier had already made a name for himself studying the black family structure and education in the black community. Frazier and Drake’s interest in black youth intersect with Drake’s writing of the introduction.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1967b. Introduction. In Growing up in the black belt: Negro youth in the rural south. Edited by Charles S. Johnson. New York: Schocken Books.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Johnson attended graduate school at the University of Chicago and was concerned with racial equality and the social, economic, and political progression of blacks in America. In this work, Johnson focuses on young people in the South whereas Frazier’s Negro Youth at the Crossways focused on black youth in the middle and Mid-Atlantic states.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1975. Moynihan and the third world. The Nation, 5 July: 8–13.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        In this article for The Nation Drake considers the meaning of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and contextualizes Moynihan’s success. Drake also discusses his impact in both domestic and international affairs particularly related to issues of race.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1987. Black folk here and there: An essay in history and anthropology. Vol. 1. Los Angeles: Center for Afro-American Studies, Univ. of California at Los Angeles.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Black Folk Here and There is Drake’s final major work. In Volume 1 he explores the concepts of race, racialization, race relations, and racial hierarchies. Here he looks primarily to ancient Egypt for his explanation of how ideas concerning race developed over time and in different localities.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1990. Black folk here and there: An essay in history and anthropology. Vol. 2. Los Angeles: Center for Afro-American Studies, Univ. of California at Los Angeles.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        In the second volume, Drake challenges the belief that blacks were always considered inferior and that negative ideas regarding blackness and dark skin color were prevalent in all places and all times. Drake finds compelling examples of color prejudice while also countering these with examples of its conspicuous absence.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair, and National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers. 1966. Race relations in a time of rapid social change. New York: National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This is the summary report of a study conducted by Drake and his team on the impact of larger social shifts in race and class in the United States and the resulting impact on interactions between communities whose differences are defined primarily by race.

        Find this resource:

      Chicago and the Black Metropolis

      Chicago was undoubtedly the laboratory Drake established and frequently returned to in his research on race, class, and social mobility for African Americans in the urban United States. His iconic work with Horace Cayton in this regard is Black Metropolis. Black Metropolis (Drake and Cayton 1993) is referenced by scholars in sociology, anthropology, urban studies, and African American studies as the preeminent work on the structure of the black community and the impact of social institutions, legislative policies and internal social organization on the black urban experience. Black Metropolis expanded on the methodological approach of The Chicago School by including extensive qualitative data. Decades after its publication Black Metropolis continues to influence urban ethnographies in the black community across disciplines, and Bronzeville, the south-side Chicago neighborhood site of the study, remains a favored site for researchers interested in charting the shifts and transformations among black Americans. Peretz 2004 details the scope of the large research undertaken that ultimately resulted in the writing of Black Metropolis, including the intentions and interests of the researchers involved, the nature of the data collected, and challenges within the research process. In “Profiles: Chicago,” published a year prior to Black Metropolis, Drake uses Chicago in comparison with other urban sites to explain the link between economic frustrations, racism, social exclusions, and revolts among African Americans most negatively impacted by systematic marginalization. Drake 1944 traces the economic tensions and global politics that led to civil unrest in Chicago, comparing Chicago to other urban centers, such as Detroit, experiencing similar racial tensions.

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1944. Profiles: Chicago. Journal of Educational Sociology 17.5 (January): 261–271.

        DOI: 10.2307/2262337Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        In this article, Drake discusses the various economic and political realities that contributed to race-related anxieties and how these tensions were exacerbated during World War II. Drake explains how these tensions played out in social exclusions, housing, and labor practices in Chicago in comparison with urban areas, such as Detroit, experiencing similar shifts that ultimately led to the expression of frustration through revolts and rioting.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair, and Horace Cayton. 1993. Black metropolis: A study of negro life in a northern city. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        The goal of this historical and sociological study was to investigate black-white relations in Chicago and the structure of the black community. Drake’s primary research focus was on churches and voluntary associations, which reflects his ongoing interest in the intersection between race, social organizations, and religion. The project was funded by the Works Projects Administration. Drake’s contemporary Richard Wright wrote the foreword to the original manuscript.

        Find this resource:

      • Peretz, Henri. 2004. The making of the black metropolis. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 595 (September): 168–175.

        DOI: 10.1177/0002716204267185Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Peretz explores the various disciplinary backgrounds of the individuals behind the making and writing of Black Metropolis, specifically Drake, Cayton, and W. Lloyd Warner. Peretz is particularly interested in exploring the breadth of the data collected, the scope of the project and the intentions of the researchers. This article is useful for understanding the challenges of the research process and the various roles played by all involved.

        Find this resource:

      Africa and Pan-Africanism

      St. Clair Drake saw the fate of all peoples of the African diaspora as mutually dependent. Drake 1963 in particular explicates these transnational links. Drake’s varied commitments to Pan-Africanism are demonstrated in the works below, which include both manuscripts written by and about Drake. Following the model of Edward Wilmot Blyden, whom Drake cites as an early scholarly influence, Drake 1959 is written in the vindicationist mode to dispel the theory of African inferiority rooted in pseudo-science and the Hamitic myth. Drake 1970 demonstrates that the significance of religion among African Americans is part of the distinctly African heritage and connects the transformations in traditional religion in both Africa and the United States. In order for Pan-Africanism to exist as more than abstract theoretical ideal, the concept of democracy would have to attain transnational coherence. Drake wrestled with what he believed to be the historical challenges that continued to haunt contemporary prospects for democracy particularly in West Africa (Drake 1956), while contemplating the divergent meaning of democracy in Africa and the West, and the inextricable connection between democracy and economic stability (Drake 1964). Drake 1960 emphasizes the mobilizing factors that contributed to social revolution in 20th-century Africa. Kwame Nkrumah’s central role in Pan-Africanism is a variable that Drake frequently returned to in his writing even after Nkrumah’s death, and that Gaines 2006 discussed in work on African expatriates and the Pan-African movement in Ghana. Contemporary scholars of the African diaspora owe a huge debt to Drake’s scholarship on Negritude and Pan-Africanism, although as Edwards 2001 has pointed out, Drake and his contemporaries’ concept of Pan-Africanism has been conflated with the concept of diaspora. Although Drake’s contribution to diasporic studies includes the theoretical development of the concept of diaspora and the global activism that is connected to it, his work in this regard was often labeled communism and anti-American and thus a threat to the United States (see Gershenhorn 2009).

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1956. Prospects for democracy in the Gold Coast. Annals of American Academy of Political and Social Science 306:78–87.

        DOI: 10.1177/000271625630600113Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Here Drake discusses the British influence on traditional Gold Coast society and the ongoing struggle between local chiefs and new educated westernized African leaders. Included in this discussion is an exploration of the factors that contributed to the 1947 Revolution.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1959. Destroy the Hamitic myth. Special Issue: The Unity of African Cultures. Presence Africaine. 24–25: 215–230.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This article was published in Presence Africaine, noted for presenting groundbreaking insights on transcontinental race concerns and black internationalism. Here Drake continues in the vindicationist tradition with a counter argument to African inferiority and the theories rooted in scientific racism used to support European superiority.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1960. Traditional authority and social action in former British West Africa. Human Organization 19.1: 150–158.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Drake considers the factors that contribute to social reorganization in Africa, specifically how the contours of 20th-century revolution take shape. He emphasizes the fact that most social scientists have underestimated the power of small mobilized groups and networks to affect social transformation in certain parts of Africa.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1963. Hide my face?: On Pan-Africanism and Negritude. Bobbs-Merrill Reprint Series in Black Studies. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        In this work, Drake considers the impact of Africa as both site and concept in African American identity formation. Here Drake discusses the basis for a desire for a return to and longing for Africa, while exploring Pan-Africanism and Negritude in ways that will influence later work in diaspora studies.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1964. Democracy on trial in Africa. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 354.1: 110–121.

        DOI: 10.1177/000271626435400113Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Drake compares the view of democracy in the West and in Africa. In this discussion, Drake situates the relationship between colonialism and the abandonment of democracy in various parts of Africa, and discusses how he sees economic growth contributing to a stable democracy. Drake also offers a reflection on how concerns over national unity have supplanted a concern for democracy in some parts of Africa.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1970. The redemption of Africa and black religion. Chicago: Third World.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        In this text, Drake discusses the traditional and changing role of religion in Africa as well as among African descendents in the United States.

        Find this resource:

      • Edwards, Brent Hayes. 2001. The uses of diaspora. Social Text 19.1: 45–73.

        DOI: 10.1215/01642472-19-1_66-45Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Offers a critical intellectual genealogy of the term diaspora and how it has been employed across disciplines for various purposes. Although internationalism and Pan-Africanism were used by early intellectuals working in the area of African and African American studies, Edwards considers why the term emerged relatively late in the scholarship, post-World War II. In this article, Edwards offers insight into the ongoing significance of Drake’s Pan-Africanism.

        Find this resource:

      • Gaines, Kevin Kelly. 2006. American Africans in Ghana: Black expatriates and the civil rights era. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

        DOI: 10.5149/uncp/9780807830086Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Kevin Gaines discusses the individual and overlapping experiences of African Americans living and working in Ghana during the civil rights era in the United States. Drake is included prominently in this work where Gaines focuses on his relationship to Nkrumah and George Padmore, his transnational activism, and his chairing of the sociology department at the University of Ghana.

        Find this resource:

      • Gershenhorn, Jerry. 2009. “I have grown up in the pan African orbit”: St. Clair Drake, African studies, and the struggles of the black scholar-activist, 1945–1960. Paper presented at the ASALH 94th Annual Convention, Cincinnati, Ohio, 30 September–4 October 2009.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Gershenhorn presents Drake’s role at Roosevelt University in the larger context of the establishment of African American studies following World War II and the start of the Cold War when area studies in general were seen as a matter of national security. He also outlines the obstacles Drake faced due to his radical emancipatory racial politics.

        Find this resource:

      Disciplinary Reflections and Critiques

      St. Clair Drake was a scholar who crossed disciplinary boundaries before interdisciplinarity became a common term in academia. Trained as an anthropologist, Drake’s mentors and collaborators included other anthropologists, sociologists, and historians while his impact as an intellectual, researcher, social activist, and educator has transformed the way scholars discuss race and class in all of these disciplines, as well as directing the formation of African American studies. Drake was a consistent advocate and critic of anthropology and used his incredible depth of knowledge to question anthropological interventions in race relations and the unique position of the African American anthropologist (see Drake 1978 and Drake 1980). As a key figure in the development of African American studies, St. Clair Drake additionally wrote about the history of the discipline’s emergence and the central distinctions between African and African Americans studies particularly in terms of their political implications and administrative reception in the academy (see Drake 1984).

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1978. Reflections on anthropology and the black experience. Anthropology and Education Quarterly 9.2: 85–109.

        DOI: 10.1525/aeq.1978.9.2.04x0741mSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        In this article Drake reflects on the factors that have historically kept African Americans out of the discipline of anthropology both by design of the academy and choice of the scholars, as well as the factors that have led to the increase in the number of African American anthropologists. Drake considers the role anthropology plays in race relations and how the discipline is situated within national economic and political structures.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair 1980. Anthropology and the black experience. Black Scholar 11.7: 2–31.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Here Drake historically outlines the relationship between the discipline of anthropology and the experiences of African descendents from the time of the transcontinental slave trade. He additionally discusses the actual and hoped for role of black anthropologists.

        Find this resource:

      • Drake, St. Clair. 1984. Black studies and global perspectives: An assessment of black studies programs in American higher education. Journal of Negro Education 53.3: 226–242.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Discusses the emergence of the discipline of African American studies as it is connected to civil unrest in the United States and internationally. Drake also considers the different institutional reception of African studies established in the 1950s compared to African American studies which received very little administration and was perceived to be radically disruptive of the status quo in ways that African studies was not.

        Find this resource:

      Comparative Work of Drake’s Contemporaries

      W.E.B. Du Bois’s trajectory of intellectual activism aligns with St. Clair Drake’s in many ways. As an exploration and validation of black history, Du Bois 1939 is a precursor to Drake’s Black Folk Here and There. In much the same way that Drake’s influence extended well beyond his discipline, the breadth of Du Bois’s work reached outside of his own to intervene in anthropological considerations of race and the black community (Harrison 1992). Upon publication of Black Metropolis, comparisons were made to other books on the African descendents in the United States that were written during that time and were thought to offer similar observations on race and class in urban areas. Myrdal 1944 is most frequently cited within these comparisons; however, it was critiqued for presenting the African American community not in its own right but only as culturally and socially reactionary to white Americans. Powdermaker 1939 is often compared to Deep South, Davis’s (Drake’s mentor) study of race and class in Mississippi for which Drake conducted research among low-income blacks. Powdermaker’s analysis is less attuned to the nuances of race and class as evidenced in caste than the social critique offered by Davis and his colleagues.

      • Du Bois, W.E.B. 1939. Black folk then and now: An essay in the history and sociology of the Negro race. New York: Octagon.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Du Bois aims to provide a history of blacks, considering the lack of attention paid to Negro history due to the assumption that Negroes have no history. We see the discussion here of skin color in both the ancient and modern world and the emergence of the degradation of blackness that Drake takes up in his work in the late 1980s and early 1990s with Black Folk Here and There.

        Find this resource:

      • Harrison, Faye V. 1992. The Du Boisian legacy in anthropology. Critique of Anthropology 12.3: 239–260.

        DOI: 10.1177/0308275X9201200303Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Harrison examines the inherent interdisciplinarity of Du Bois’s scholarship and his historical and ongoing contemporary influence in the field of anthropology particularly as his theories and activism relate to questions of race, caste, and inequality. Harrison’s assessment of Du Bois as a vindicationist mirrors Drake’s multifaceted role in anthropology. Here Harrison reveals the impact Du Bois’s work had on the content and approach of Drake’s research as well as his activist engagements. This Du Boisian legacy extended from Drake to other anthropologists interested in race and social inequalities.

        Find this resource:

      • Myrdal, Gunnar. 1944. An American dilemma: The Negro problem and modern democracy. New York: Harper and Brothers.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Explores the impact of segregation and discrimination on African Americans, and ultimately identifies white elites as the demographic that would have to change if civil rights were to be a reality. Some critiques of this work assert that Myrdal focuses on African Americans as if they only exist in relationship to whites, almost as if blacks only take shape in response to the actions and social constructions of white America.

        Find this resource:

      • Powdermaker, Hortense. 1939. After freedom: A cultural study in the Deep South. New York: Viking.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Powdermaker’s After Freedom is also often discussed in comparison to Black Metropolis as an example of urban anthropology situated in the African American community. Powdermaker focuses on the black family structure and struggle within economic and social marginalization in the United States. This work is often cited as a model of ethnographic writing in vivid, rich detail.

        Find this resource:

      Institutions and Institution Building

      In addition to his publications and social advocacy, Drake’s activist efforts included institutional interventions in higher education. Drake taught at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, while he was conducting research for Deep South in Mississippi. The intention was for Dillard to become the first black institution with an anthropology department with W. Allison Davis leading the helm. Davis eventually introduced British anthropology courses at Dillard, but the institution of the full anthropology department did not come to fruition at that time. Both Davis and Drake, however, had a lasting impact on the institution, as evidenced by the Lecture Series at Dillard University established in 1999. Drake spent over twenty years at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois, from 1946 to 1968, and has mentioned this university as perhaps the institutional space most supportive of his progressive pedagogy and political activism in the African diaspora. Roosevelt was explicitly established to challenge racial discrimination while promoting academic excellence. The Center of African American Studies at Roosevelt University continues to work in Drake’s intellectual and activist tradition. Seven years before his retirement, Drake was to establish the Center for African and African American Studies at Stanford. While at Stanford, Drake encouraged students to expand their theoretical interests outside of the classroom and taught groundbreaking courses on race prejudice and urban development. The Center honors Drake’s legacy with an annual lecture series, St. Clair Drake Memorial Lectures. Drake’s long history of research and activism in Chicago continues to be a tremendous resource on the South Side of Chicago and source of information for organizations interested in documenting the history of the area. The Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC) which takes its name after Drake’s most well-known work, is exemplary in this regard.

      Contemporary Influence

      Arguably the most well known social scientist influenced by the work of St. Clair Drake and Black Metropolis in particular is the prolific urban sociologist William Julius Wilson. Wilson wrote the foreword for the revised 1993 edition of Black Metropolis and in Wilson 1996 studied the same communities in Bronzeville that Drake and Cayton researched. Wilson builds on Drake’s emphasis on the devastating impact of racism, social exclusion, and poverty in the black community. Wilson 1987 is a work on African Americans living in communities on the South Side of Chicago, tracing the contemporary social and economic shifts such as the flight of middle-class blacks from inner cities and higher rates of joblessness that make life for urban low-income African Americans increasingly precarious. A new generation of urban anthropologists and sociologists is conducting research in African American communities in ways that are clearly influenced by the guiding questions in Drake’s work and his methodologies. Jackson 2001 delves further into the complicated interplay between self-defining race and class identities, external attributions, and the behavioral and performative aspects of race. Pattilo-McCoy 1999 explores class stratifications within race and the distinctions between the black and white middle class which point to the ongoing significance of race in the United States. McRoberts 2003 investigates the increasing disconnection between black churches composed of predominantly middle-class congregants and the inner-city low-income black communities in which these churches are embedded.

      • Ferguson, Roderick. 2004. Aberrations in black: Toward a queer of color critique. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Ferguson offers a critique of canonical sociological texts and their inability to grapple with issues of sexuality in the African American community particularly in the context of urban spaces. In this discussion, he specifically focuses on Drake’s work in Black Metropolis.

        Find this resource:

      • Jackson, John L. 2001. Harlemworld: Doing race and class in contemporary black America. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Jackson’s ethnography investigates the construction of race and class in Harlem, an urban space that has become, as Jackson notes, the mythological site of American “blackness.” Jackson highlights the behavioral aspects of race, and particularly blackness, and thus (hence the title) demonstrates that race and class are actually “done to people.”

        Find this resource:

      • McRoberts, Omar M. 2003. Streets of glory: Church and community in a black urban neighborhood. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        McRoberts studied twenty-nine churches in a historically African American Boston community to chart the nature of the relationship between the churches and the community in which they are embedded. McRoberts finds that many of the churches are headed by people who are not community members and therefore are not committed to investing in community revitalization and, in fact, create an insular community within the church itself.

        Find this resource:

      • Pattillo-McCoy, Mary. 1999. Black picket fences: Privilege and peril among the black middle class. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Pattillo-McCoy explores the social and economic lives of middle-class blacks living on the South Side of Chicago. Black Picket Fences demonstrates the substantial gaps in terms of financial prosperity, educational attainment, and status between the black and white middle class and the way race continues to define life chances in the United States.

        Find this resource:

      • Wilson, William Julius. 1987. The truly disadvantaged. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Critiques both liberals and conservatives for their approaches to urban poverty. Wilson calls for a national labor market strategy to confront the intersecting factors contributing to joblessness and the increased social, economic, and political vulnerability of low-income inner city black families.

        Find this resource:

      • Wilson, William Julius. 1996. When work disappears: The world of the new urban poor. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Wilson discusses the significant changes that have occurred in the lives of blacks in Bronzeville since the 1940s, including higher unemployment and the establishment of a new urban poor which Wilson describes as much poorer and more segregated. Attributes lack of social networks, collective supervision, and belonging to voluntary organizations to part of the social disorganization that is damaging these low-income, predominantly African American communities in south and west Chicago.

        Find this resource:

      LAST MODIFIED: 01/11/2012

      DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199766567-0062

      back to top

      Article

      Up

      Down