Every decently educated person has at least heard of W. E. B. Du Bois, the great 19th and 20th century African-American scholar and activist who is, in my judgment, the most important social scientist of any race that America has produced. But almost nobody has heard of St. Clair Drake, the scholar and activist perhaps best known in a narrow circle of scholars as the co-author of Black Metropolis, a classical urban study of South Side Black Chicago. Drake was for decades a significant scholar and also an important leader of the Pan-African movement out of which so many of Southern Africa's post World War II political leaders came. He stands second only to Du Bois in the pantheon of Black American intellectuals.
A very great deal has been written about Du Bois, most famously David Levering Lewis' magisterial two-volume biography of Du Bois. But virtually nothing has been written about Drake. That is about to change. Dr. Andrew Rosa, who wrote his doctoral dissertation about Drake in the Afro-American Studies Department at UMass while I was the Graduate Program Director there, has just secured a contract at the University of Chicago Press for his extremely important new book, St. Clair Drake: A Biography of the African Diaspora. Rosa is literally the first scholar to examine the 100 boxes of Drake's papers at the Schomburg Library in New York. He has interviewed scholars who knew Drake, and has set Drake's life and work in the context of the world-wide movement for Black liberation.
When it appears, it will be a major contribution to the now rich and deep scholarship of the African-American experience. I consider myself honored to have had the opportunity to serve as a second reader on Rosa's dissertation committee.