In Search of the Talented Tenth
Howard University Public Intellectuals and the Dilemmas of Race, 1926-1970
Zachery R. Williams
264 pages
6.13 x 9.25
25 illus., 2 tables

Formats available:
Hardcover   $39.95 SH
ISBN: 978-0-8262-1862-9
E Book   $39.95 SH
ISBN: 978-0-8262-7204-1

About the Book

From the 1920s through the 1970s, Howard University was home to America’s most renowned assemblage of black scholars. This book traces some of the personal and professional activities of this community of public intellectuals, demonstrating their scholar-activist nature and the myriad ways they influenced modern African American, African, and Africana policy studies.

In Search of the Talented Tenth tells how individuals like Rayford Logan, E. Franklin Frazier, John Hope Franklin, Merze Tate, Charles Wesley, and Dorothy Porter left an indelible imprint on academia and black communities alike through their impact on civil rights, anticolonialism, and women’s rights. Zachery Williams explores W. E. B. Du Bois’s Talented Tenth by describing the role of public intellectuals from the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Power movement, in times as trying as the Jim Crow and Cold War eras.

Williams first describes how the years 1890 to 1926 laid the foundation for Howard’s emergence as the “capstone of Negro education” during the administration of university president Mordecai Johnson. He offers a wide-ranging discussion of how the African American community of Washington, D.C., contributed to the dynamism and intellectual life of the university, and he delineates the ties that linked many faculty members to one another in ways that energized their intellectual growth and productivity as scholars. He also discusses the interaction of Howard’s intellectual community with those of the West Indies, Africa, and other places, showing the international impact of Howard’s intellectuals and the ways in which black and brown elites outside the United States stimulated the thought and scholarship of the Howard intellectuals.

In Search of the Talented Tenth marks the first in-depth study of the intellectual activity of this community of scholars and further attests to the historic role of women faculty in shaping the university. It testifies to the impact of this group as a model against which the twenty-first century’s black public intellectuals can be measured.


Zachery R. Williams is Assistant Professor of African American History and Associate Director of Pan-African Studies at the University of Akron. He is the editor of Africana Cultures and Policy Studies: Scholarship and the Transformation of Public Policy.


“A distinctive take on the contributions of Howard University intellectuals that provides a model of how contemporary Africana Studies professionals can go about integrating policy studies into the discipline. The discussion of women at Howard is especially important.”—James B. Stewart, coeditor of Blacks in Rural America


Writers of Conviction
Julia C. Ehrhardt

Finding People in Early Greece
Carol G. Thomas

Yeats and the Logic of Formalism
Vereen M. Bell

Transfiguring America
Jeffrey Steele

Copyright © 2012 — Curators of the University of Missouri. All rights reserved. DMCA and other copyright information.
An equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.