Today we will visit with Dr. Edward Franklin Frazier, noted sociologist, educator and author whose work on Black American social structure provided insights into the many of the problems affecting the Black community.
E. Franklin Frazier was born in Baltimore, Maryland on September 24, 1894, one of five children of James H. Frazier, a bank messenger, and Mary Clark Frazier, a housewife. Frazier attended Baltimore public schools before attending classes at Howard University in Washington, DC. He graduated with honors from Howard in 1916.
Frazier began his career teaching mathematics at Tuskegee from 1916 to 1917, English and History at St. Paul’s Normal and Industrial School in Lawrenceville, Virginia (1917-1918), and Franch and Mathematics at Baltimore High School (1918-1919).
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.
During this time Frazier published a number of articles, including “The Pathology of Race Prejudice” in 1927. This article, which argued that racial prejudice was analogous to insanity, stirred such strong reactions among residents in Atlanta that Frazier was removed from his position.
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. Frazier spent a few few years at Fisk University, followed by a move to Howard University in Washington, DC in 1934.
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.
Frazier was a founding member of the D.C. Sociological Society, serving as President of DCSS in 1943-44. Frazier also served as President of the Eastern Sociological Society in 1944-45. In 1948, Frazier was the first black 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.
Frazier died May 17, 1962 in Washngton, D.C. An obituary for Frazier was published in the American Sociological Review (ASR 27:890-892).
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