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Sterling Stuckey's Considerable Legacy

Scholars Gather at UC Riverside to Honor Work, Legacy of Sterling Stuckey

“Africans, Culture, and Intellectuals in North America: P. Sterling Stuckey and the Folk,” is Free and Open to the Public May 21 and 22.

(May 19, 2004)

Sterling StuckeyEnlarge

Sterling Stuckey

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- Scholars from all over the United States will gather at UC Riverside Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22, to celebrate the legacy and work of Professor of History P. Sterling Stuckey, a noted writer and historian on Afro-American intellectual and cultural history. Stuckey, who holds a UC Presidential Chair at UC Riverside, will retire at the end of this academic year.

This kind of conference, with scholars from a variety of fields honoring the work of one living person, is relatively rare. “Africans, Culture, and Intellectuals in North America: P. Sterling Stuckey and the Folk,” is free and open to the public, with sessions in room 1500 and 1501 of the Humanities and Social Sciences building.

"Dozens of scholars of distinction, many near or at the very top of their fields, will gather to honor me. How can that not be a humbling experience?” Stuckey said. “For those hearing them, it will be a unique opportunity to savor stimulating scholarship across at least a half-dozen fields. Rarely, in fact, has there been a gathering of leading scholars from so many fields gathered in one room to speak to each other and to the public on subjects of compelling interest. The larger community should not allow an event so rich in intellectual and spiritual content to go by unnoticed."

A civil rights organizer in Chicago during the 1960s, Stuckey is one of two historians who advised The Smithsonian Institution and National Public Radio during the making of 26 one-hour programs of spirituals and other sacred music relating to the Civil Rights movement.

Approximately 35 scholars will be delivering papers on topics that include:
• “Mr. Jelly Roll, Mr. Lomax, and the Invention of Jazz,” John Szwed, Anthropology, Yale University.
• “ Moby Dick and the War on Terror,” Carolyn Karcher, English, Temple University, (retired)
• “Sojourner Truth and ‘Arn't I a Woman?' Through the Prism of Folklore” by Margaret Washington, History and Religion, Cornell University.

The full conference schedule is available online at

Stuckey came to UC Riverside’s faculty in July 1989 from Northwestern University, where he earned his bachelor’s in political science, his masters and Ph.D. in history, and served as a history professor. Over the past 40 years, Stuckey has published widely on Afro-American history and culture. His books include Slave Culture and Going Through the Storm: The Influence of African American Art in History, both published by Oxford University Press. Stuckey has also held many distinguished fellowships and professorships, at the University of Minnesota, UCLA in 1975-76, Stanford University, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., the Humanities Research Institute, and was an Andrew Mellon Fellow in 2003.

Emory Elliott, director of the UCR Center for Ideas and Society, said that Stuckey has made a major impact on UCR.

"We were very fortunate to recruit Professor Stuckey in 1989 from Northwestern University, where he was a major figure on the faculty and in the Chicago community. He has played a crucial role in building a strong program in African American Studies at UCR, and his reputation as a great teacher and scholar has attracted excellent graduate students and younger faculty to our campus."

Louis Vandenberg, director of radio station KUCR, will be offer a tribute to Prof. Stuckey, who has been a long-time radio personality at the station. The best of Stuckey's shows on the origins of jazz will air on 88.3 FM continuously from 1 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday.

A full schedule of the conference:

Friday, May 21, 2004
10:30 am-12:00 pm : Carrying on the Work

Chair: Thandekile Mvusi , Jackson State University , History
Jermaine Archer , University of California , Riverside , History: “The Circle Continues: Harriet Jacobs's Recollection of John Kunering and Harriet Tubman's Role as a Conjure Doctor”
Jennifer Hildebrand , University of California , Riverside , History: “Mr. Very Unique”
Frans Ntloedibe , University of California , Riverside , History: “A Question of Origins: Revisiting The Birth of African American Culture in the Americas ”
Karen Wilson , University of California , Riverside , History: “Women's Work: Enslaved Women's Stories Through Head, Hand and Heart”

12:00-1:15 pm : Lunch Break

1:15-3:00 pm : The Scholar and the Politics of Scholarship
Chair: James Brennan, University of California , Riverside , History

Peter Carroll, Independent Scholar, History: “ Sterling Stuckey and the Restructuring of American History: Some Personal Perspectives”
David C. Dennard, East Carolina University , History: “Applauding and Remembering the Scholarship of a Consummate Folk Historian”
Lewis V. Baldwin , Vanderbilt, Religious Studies: “On Being African: Sterling Stuckey's Contributions to the Study of Black Nationalist Theory and Practice”
Jason Young, State University of New York , Buffalo , History: “Through the Prism of Slave Art: A Reflection on the Activism and Scholarship of P. Sterling Stuckey”

Scot Brown, University of California , Los Angeles , History: “1960s Black Cultural Nationalism and Ritual: Slave Culture and Interpretive Approaches to Recent Pan-African Cultural Invention — The Case of the Taifa Dance Troupe”

3:15-5:00 pm : Slavery and Antinomies of Race
Chair: Roger Ransom, University of California , Riverside , History

Fred Knight, Colorado State University, History: “Martin Delany, Slave Labor, and African-American Claims as Citizens”
Norrece T. Jones, Jr., Virginia Commonwealth University, History: “The Evidence of Things Not Seen: African Religion and the Faith of the Enslaved”
Bernard E. Powers, Jr., College of Charleston, History: “‘Redeeming the Race': The Reconstruction Work of Rev. Richard H. Cain in South Carolina ”
Cheryl Johnson-Odim, Columbia College, Chicago , History: “Black Women, Black Men: The Manipulation of Gender in the Development of Racism in the United States”
John Neff, University of Mississippi, History: “A Bird of a Different Feather: Race and Symbol in Herman Melville's Benito Cereno”

5:15-6:45 pm : Interrelated, Multiple Worlds
Chair: Lamont Yeakey , California State University, Los Angeles, History

Dr. James O. Jackson , Principal, Shaker High School in Latham , New York : “The Influence of the Haytian Revolution”
Michael Jones, Kentucky Historical Society: “Joining the Ranks: African Americans in the Military”
Jean Allman , University of Illinois , Urbana-Champaign, History: “Nuclear Colonialism and the Pan-African Struggle for Peace and Freedom: Ghana , 1959-1966"
Glennon Graham, Columbia College , Chicago , History: “Reflections On the Urban Folk: Lake Street Chicago , 1920-1939”

Saturday, May 22, 2004
9:00-10:30 am : Legacies
Chair: Robert L. Harris, Jr., Cornell University , History

Giles Wright, New Jersey Historical Commission, History: “ Sterling Stuckey as Friend and Historian: An Indebtedness”
Clement Alexander Price, Rutgers University , History: “On Anchoring a Generation of Scholars: P. Sterling Stuckey and the Nationalist Persuasion in African American History”
George Fredrickson , Stanford University , History: “The Contribution of Sterling Stuckey's Through the Prism of Folklore to the Historiography of Slavery”
David Roediger, University of Illinois , Urbana-Champaign, History: “ Sterling Brown and the Future of Labor Studies”

10:45 am-12:15 pm : Art, Music and Memory
Chair: Dale Kent, University of California , Riverside , History

Raymond Doswell, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum : “Shades of Greatness: Art Inspired by Negro Leagues Baseball”
Josephine Wright, The College of Wooster , Music: “Sacred Songs of the American Slave: Songs of Remembrance”
Samuel A. Floyd, Jr., John Hope Franklin Research Fellow, National Humanities Center , Music: “Researching the Deep South : A Neglected Area in the Scholarship on Black Music”
John Szwed , Yale University , Anthropology: “Mr. Jelly Roll, Mr. Lomax, and the Invention of Jazz”

12:15-1:45 pm : Lunch Break

1:45-2:30 p.m. : Keynote Address
Michael A. Gomez , New York University , History
“A Harvest for the People”

2:30-4:00 pm : Literature and the Folk Imaginary
Chair: Emory Elliott , University of California , Riverside , English

Mae Henderson, University of North Carolina , Chapel Hill , English: “The ‘Thing' to Fear: The ‘White Africanist Presence' in the Black and White American Literary Imaginary”
Eric Sundquist, University of California , Los Angeles , English: “Paule Marshall and the Black Diaspora”
Roger D. Abrahams, University of Pennsylvania , Folklore, English: “Joe Harris and the Exploding Pumpkin”
Carolyn Karcher, Temple University , English (retired): “ Moby Dick and the War on Terror”

4:15-5:45 pm : Learned Consecrations
Chair: Robert Hill, University of California , Los Angeles , History

Gladys-Marie Fry, University of Maryland , Folklore (retired): “‘A Sermon in Patchwork': New Light on Harriette Powers”
Vincent Wimbush, Claremont Graduate University , Religion: “African Americans and the TEXTureS of the Sacred”
Margaret Washington, Cornell University , History and Religion: “Sojourner Truth and ‘Arn't I a Woman?' Through the Prism of Folklore”
Charles Long, University of California , Santa Barbara , Religion (emeritus): “Religious Orientation in the Formation of African American Culture”


The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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