Studies of the African Diaspora
The Work and Reflections of St. Clair Drake
My seventy-eight years can be divided into three periods that have shaped my scholarly interests. The first period was the prewar years spent in a racially segregated South (though my very earliest years were spent in Pittsburgh). My experiences as a student at Hampton University in Virginia and contact there with Professor Allison Davis moved me to want to study, understand, and change the odd world of Jim Crow. This desire led me during my post-Hampton years to the Quaker Graduate Center, Pendle Hill, for a year, and then later to fieldwork with Davis in Mississippi helping to gather data for the book Deep South: A Social Anthropological Study of Caste and Class (1941). After that I went on to the University of Chicago for graduate work in sociology and anthropology. It was there that Horace Cayton and I gathered the data that resulted in Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (1945).
The second period began with the end of the Second World War. There was the excitement and promise of a new world free from fascism and racism. The war had shown that deep and rapid change in America's race relations was possible. But this promise and possibility were frustrated by Cold War politics at home and neocolonialism abroad. This is the period when my interest in race relations as an international and diasporic experience developed. In 1951 I published “The International Implications of Race and Race Relations.” In 1954 I went to Africa for a year of teaching and research in Liberia and Ghana. In 1958 I returned to Ghana for two years at the national university and then helped to train four teams of Peace Corps teachers for the country. I went back again to the University of Ghana in 1965. After the coup of 1966, I shifted the focus of my field research to the Commonwealth Caribbean. One of the results of these experiences was a book (not yet published) “Africa and the Black Diaspora: Impact of Africa on the New World.”
The third and current period began in 1969 when I was fifty-eight years