Lemert Lecture to Explore Pioneering Sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois and Social Movements

Book cover and portrait photo of Aldon Morris
Aldon Morris, sociology professor at Northwestern University and author of "The Scholar Denied," will give this year's Lemert Lecture.

Award-winning author and sociologist Aldon Morris will visit Davis on Thursday, May 10 to give a talk, “W. E. B. Du Bois at the Center: From Science, Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter.”

Morris, the Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, will begin his lecture at 4:10 p.m., at the International House, 10 College Park. His appearance is sponsored by the Department of Sociology’s annual Lemert Lecture.

A scholar of social movements, Morris wrote the award-winning books The Scholar Denied: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology and Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing For Change, among other publications.

Morris has won numerous awards including the 2018 John D. McCarthy Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Scholarship of Social Movements and Collective Behavior and the 2009 Cox-Johnson-Frazier Major Award which honors social justice scholars advancing the status of disadvantaged groups.

In The Scholar Denied, he rewrites the history of sociology by showing how institutional racism and white supremacy denied Du Bois recognition as the founder of American sociology. The book won the 2016 PROSE R.R. Hawkins Award.

Morris said his talk will detail how Du Bois was pushed to the margins by other scholars in the 20th century, raising questions about how knowledge is produced and spread. “It will demonstrate that power and economics are as important in the production of knowledge as is the merit of ideas,” Morris said.

DuBois, who lived 1868 to 1963, was the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University. He taught history, sociology and economics at Atlanta University and co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Morris said his lecture will also highlight Du Bois’ civil rights activism and his insistence on protest to produce social change—and its relevance to movements like Black Lives Matter today.

The lecture will explore how Du Bois would have responded to recent police violence directed at black people, such as the shooting of Stephon Clark” in Sacramento in March, he said.

About the Lemert Lecture

The annual Lemert Lecture honors Edwin Lemert, the founding chair of what was then the UC Davis Department of Sociology and Anthropology. He taught at UC Davis from 1943 to 1953, continuing to write scholarly papers and books until his death in 1996. He is widely known for his pioneering work on labeling theory in the study of social deviance.

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