Dr. E. J. Josey: Founder, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association

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Founder, The Black Caucus of the American Library Association

Dr. E. J. Josey (1924-2009) was founder of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, professor emeritus in the Department of Library and Information Science at the School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, and past president of the American Library Association (1984-1985).

A noted administrator, author, educator, leader, librarian, public intellectual and scholar, Josey was a life-long advocate for civil rights, human rights and equal opportunity for librarians of color, as well as a mentor to librarians of all ethnicities. During the early 1960's, he participated in the civil rights movement in Savannah (see The Black Librarian in America, pp. 308-11), and served on the executive board of the Savannah Branch of the NAACP wherein he helped desegregate stores in Savannah, Georgia, as well as serving on the executive board of the Albany, NY Branch of the NAACP. In 1964, in spite of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which encouraged desegregation of libraries and American Library Association (ALA) chapters, the ALA was slow in implementing racial desegregation of all of its southern chapters until E.J. Josey offered his resolution at the 1964 Conference which prevented ALA officers and staff members from attending segregated state chapter meetings (the four remaining segregated chapters that denied membership to African American librarians at that time were Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi); hence they desegregated immediately, and Josey became the first African American librarian to be accepted as a member of the Georgia Library Association. Thus, he was known for his uncompromising opposition to any form of discrimination whether it is racial, gender, age or sexual orientation. He was first elected to the ALA Council (the policy making body of the association) in 1970, serving until the summer of 2000, a period of 29 years, and was therefore a member of ALA for more than 48 years, where he also chaired the ALA International Relations Committee.

Dr. Josey earned degrees from Howard University (A.B.), Columbia University (M.A.), and the State University of New York at Albany (M.S.L.S.). Subsequently, in 1973, Shaw University conferred on him an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, (D.H.L.), the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee conferred the Doctor of Public Services (D.P.L.) Honoris Causa on May 16, 1987, North Carolina Central University honored him with the Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa on September 29, 1989, Clark Atlanta University bestowed upon him the Doctor of Letters Degree (D. …