E. FRANKLIN FRAZIER

E. FRANKLIN FRAZIER

1894-1962

E. Franklin Frazier, the great sociologist and educator, was bom in Baltimore, Mary¬ land. He graduated from Howard Universi¬ ty in 1916 and taught at numerous schools before returning to his own education at Clark University in Massachusetts. His real passion was sociology, the behaviors of dif¬ ferent racial groups, which he studied at Clark, and at the University of Chicago, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1931.

Beginning an illustrious career as an educator and sociologist, Frazier taught first at Morehouse College before being invited to direct Atlanta University’s School of Social Work in 1922. He then taught at Fisk University from 1931 to 1934, before accepting the post as head of Howard Uni¬ versity’s Department of Sociology, which he kept until 1959.

Author Columbus Salley has said of E. Franklin Frazier that he was “to black soci¬ ology what Carter Woodson (see no. 43) became to black history: the father and leading pioneer.” Studying the African- American experience sociologically, Fra¬ zier was able to discover patterns of behav¬ ior and to identify their positive uses: “A few choice souls may rise to a moral eleva¬ tion where they can love those who oppress them.

But the mass of mankind either become accommodated to an enforced infe¬ rior status with sentiments consonant with their situation, or save themselves by hating the oppression and the oppressors. In the latter case, hatred is a positive moral force.”By trying to understand the black response to a society dominated by a major¬ ity of another race, Frazier could then speak to both about how to better under¬ stand one another.

To this end, Frazier published many books and essays that dissect¬ ed the sociological reality of race relations. Traditions and Patterns of Negro Family Life was published in 1934, The Negro Family in the United States in 1939, The Negro in the United States in 1949, Race and Culture Contacts in the Modem World in 1957, the controversial Black Bourgeoisie in 1957 as well, and the Negro Church in America in 1962, the year of his death.

Frazier, as one of the brightest men studying racial tension, was able to take the fear away from con¬ flict and the shame away from African-Americans living in an often hostile environment. Frazier destigmatized African-American anger and made it possible to look to the racist as well as the victim, in order to understand the cause and effect of race relations.