E. Franklin Frazier, Sociologist   Leave a comment

Edward Franklin Frazier (September 24, 1894 – May 17, 1962), was an American sociologist. His 1932 Ph.D. dissertation The Negro Family in Chicago, later released as a book The Negro Family in the United States in 1939, analyzed the cultural and historical forces that influenced the development of the African American family from the time of slavery. The book was awarded the 1940 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for the most significant work in the field of race relations. This book was among the first sociological works on blacks researched and written by a black person. He helped draft the UNESCO statement The Race Question in 1950.


E. Franklin Frazier was born in Baltimore, Maryland on September 24, 1894. Frazier was one of five children of James H. Frazier, a bank messenger, and Mary Clark Frazier, a housewife. Edward Franklin Frazier attended Baltimore public schools. Upon his graduation from Colored High School, June 1912, Frazier was awarded the school’s annual scholarship to Howard University in Washington, DC, from where he graduated with honors in 1916. E. Franklin Frazier was an excellent scholar, pursuing Latin, Greek, German and mathematics. He also found time to participate in extracurricular activities involving drama, political science, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. His leadership skills were evidenced in his class presidencies of 1915 and 1916.

Frazier attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts where he earned a master’s degree in 1920. The topic of his thesis was “New Currents of Thought Among the Colored People of America”. It was during his time at Clark that Frazier first became acquainted with sociology.

After spending 1920-1921 as a Russell Sage Foundation fellow at the New York School of Social Work (later Columbia University School of Social Work) and a year at the University of Copenhagen as a fellow of the American Scandinavian Foundation, Frazier accepted an appointment at Atlanta University where he served as the director of the Atlanta School of Social Work and an instructor of sociology at Morehouse College.

Frazier moved from Atlanta to Chicago where he received a fellowship from the University of Chicago‘s sociology department. His studies at Chicago culminated in his earning a Ph.D. in 1931. Along with Howard University colleagues, Ralph Bunche and Abram Lincoln Harris, Frazier delivered an attack on older generations at the NAACP’s 1933 Amenia Conference. Frazier spent a few years at Fisk University, followed by a move to Howard University in Washington, DC in 1934.[citation needed]

In 1941 Frazier embarked on a year-long study of family life in Brazil, supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship. He spent the next twenty years associated with Howard University where his work focused on the environment of black colleges, especially that of Howard University. One of Frazier’s colleagues in his final year at Howard was Nathan Hare, author of The Black Anglo Saxons which Frazier rival Oliver Cox excoriated as part of the “Black Bourgeoisie School” of race analysis. Like Frazier, Hare also went on to upbraid historically black colleges, principally Howard (self-styled in those days “The Capstone of Negro Education”).

Frazier was a founding member of the D.C. Sociological Society, serving as President of DCSS in 1943-44.[citation needed] Frazier also served as President of the Eastern Sociological Society in 1944-45. In 1948, Frazier was the first African American to serve as President of the American Sociological Society (later renamed Association). His Presidential Address, “Race Contacts and the Social Structure”, was presented at the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago in December 1948.[citation needed]

Frazier’s position formed one half of the debate with Melville J. Herskovits on the nature of cultural contact in the Western Hemisphere, specifically with reference to Africans, Europeans, and their descendents. [1] Frazier’s Black Bourgeoisie, the 1957 translation of a work first published in French in 1955, was a critical examination of the adoption by middle-class African Americans of a subservient conservatism that derived from the cultural style and traditional religion of the white middle class, viewed as itself intellectually and culturally barren.[citation needed]

Frazier was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.[2]

Frazier died May 17, 1962 at the age of 68, in Washington, D.C.. He has been ranked among the top African Americans for his influence on institutions and practices to accept the demands by African Americans for economic, political and social equality in American life.

In 1995 the E. Franklin Frazier Center for Social Work Research was established in the School of Social Work at Howard University. The center is named in honor of Dr. Edward Franklin Frazier because of his hard work and for all of his contributions to Howard University. A leading American sociologist and scholar- and a Howard graduate- Dr. Frazier dedicated his life to the creation of empirically based knowledge useful to solving problems affecting black people.

His pioneering studies on Black youth and families established his scholarly reputation throughout the world.[citation needed] During his lifetime he produced nine books and over 100 articles and essays challenging conventional research in the field of social work.

Edward Franklin Frazier (1894–1962) was a graduate of Howard University. Once graduated, he was a professor of math, history and modern language at the Tuskegee Institute. Known for his writings, Fraziers’ Ph.D dissertation was critically acclaimed as one of the most important reads since an earlier writing by William Du Bois, also someone Frazier called his mentor. Some of his writings caused controversy among the black community. Often making known through his literature that black Americans had not made any real progress and that the blacks Americans position in the United States was not at the top. Many of his writings focused on the impact of slavery and how it divided the black family. His support for African American civil rights during the McCarthy era resulted in his being acknowledged not for his brilliant work but as a traitor. Edward F. Frazier died May 17, 1962.

Frazier was also known for his numerous feuds with fellow academics, most notably Charles Johnson and Melville Herskovits. He was also briefly alienated from his mentor W. E. B. Du Bois in the 1930s.


Posted February 17, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Novelist / Poet

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