Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Historian David Levering Lewis, recipient of a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant,” will speak on “W.E.B. Du Bois and the Temperament of Dissent” at 8 p.m. Monday, March 26, in the auditorium of Lafayette’s Kirby Hall of Civil Rights.

Open to the public free of charge, Lewis’ talk is the second event in Lafayette’s new Presidential Speaker Series, which is designed to encourage intellectual discourse on diversity. On Nov. 1, historian Douglas Brinkley, author of a widely acclaimed biography of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, spoke on “Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and the Freedom Movement.” On Sept. 20, acclaimed poet Jay Wright will read his work in the series’ third event.

A renowned scholar in race relations and African-American history, Lewis received a $375,000 “Genius Grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1999. The Chicago-based independent grant making institution awards grants to “exceptionally talented and promising individuals” for their creativity, skill, and dedication. MacArthur Fellows are free to use the awards, which range from $200,000 to $375,000 over five years, as they please. The foundation neither requires nor expects specific products or reports from MacArthur Fellows.

Lewis is the winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for biography and eight other major awards for his 1993 book, W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race. His detailed study of the immensely influential African American intellectual and civil rights leader is a major reworking of not only Du Bois’ career, but of the history of the civil rights movement and American history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“David Levering Lewis’s remarkable, stunningly detailed book reshapes our understanding of Du Bois at so many points as to instantly become the standard biography,” says Martin Duberman, Distinguished Professor of History at Herbert H. Lehman College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York.

“Lewis’ grand, highly literate, engrossing, and deeply researched biography is expansive enough to encompass the multitudinousness of Du Bois’ life and to insist upon his significance as an intellectual. It is an outstanding example of the biographer’s art…. One recognizes in this lucid and sensitive biography the centrality of Du Bois for American, African, and Afro-American history,” adds Thomas Bender, author of the acclaimed book New York Intellect: A History of Intellectual Life in New York City from 1750 to the Beginnings of Our Own Time.

In addition to African-American history, Lewis’ research and publications deal with conceptions of race and racism, and the dynamics of European colonialism, especially in Africa. He is presently engaged in volume two of his biography of Du Bois.

Since 1994, Lewis has been the Martin Luther King Jr. University Professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. The undergraduate and graduate courses he teaches at Rutgers deal primarily with African-American history. The diverse range of topics he has focused on in previous courses have included “Civil Rights Revolution,” “Literature on Racism: Gobineau to Garvey,” “Global Imperialism, 1870-1960,” “Modern Political Thought in France,” “Fin de Siecle Paris & Renaissance Harlem,” “The Third Republic in France,” and “World Civilization.” This semester, Lewis is a visiting professor in the Harvard University department of history. In the fall, he was a Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at New York University.

Lewis holds a Ph.D. in modern Europe/France from the London School of Economics and Political Science, 1962; an M.A. in U.S. history from Columbia University, 1958; and a B.A. in history/philosophy from Fisk University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, 1956.

Categorized in: News and Features