Presentation on Alain Locke (Pennsylvania & Hertford 1907) by Jack Zoeller (New York & Univ '72)

September 28, 2010

Presentation on Alain Locke (Pennsylvania & Hertford 1907) by Jack Zoeller (New York & University '72) 

            As a continuing feature of the Bon Voyage Weekend, we want to provide the new Rhodes Scholar class with more historical depth and perspective on the Rhodes Scholarship.  Last year, we featured Robert Rotberg (New Jersey & University 1957), the author of The Founder: Cecil Rhodes and the Pursuit of Power, discussing the character, personality and career of the Founder.  This year we have asked Jack Zoeller (New York & University 1972) to speak about Alain Locke (Pennsylvania & Hertford 1907).  Jack published “Alain Locke at Oxford: Race and the Rhodes Scholarships” in the Spring 2007 issue of The American Oxonian (Vol. XCIV, No. 2), a research effort that presented a nuanced and considered portrait of the man and his time. 

            Here is a brief introduction of some themes surrounding Locke’s selection as a Rhodes Scholar, his joys and travails at Oxford, and his emergence as one of the early Rhodes exemplars of leading “the world’s fight” that Jack will address.

Alain Locke stunned the American academic establishment when he was elected a Rhodes Scholar in 1907.  He was the only African American to receive this honor for six decades.  But he was under-appreciated and even shunned by the Rhodes community.  Overcoming his race, short stature and homosexuality, Locke went on to become one of the most visible and successful Rhodes Scholars in the first quarter of the 20th century.  He had the career and mindset of a philosopher and writer, but Locke's greatest impact was as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance.  He called himself its midwife:  he birthed and shepherded a generation of black writers and artists and a new era of race-consciousness in the U.S. 

            Jack was a featured speaker at the Alain Locke Centenary Symposium in 2007 that the AARS co-sponsored with Howard University, where Locke spent his professional life as Chairman of the Philosophy Department.  We have asked Jack to share his insights on the fascinating story of Locke and the Rhodes Scholarship in a talk to the Rhodes Scholar Class of 2010 on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 11:00 am in Room 119 of the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress ( Jefferson Building).  The program is open to the entire AARS community and we cordially invite you to join us.  No RSVP is necessary.

Click here to view the video.

Scholars