St. Clair Drake

Memorial Lectures

The St. Clair Drake Lectures are dedicated to the memory of Professor St. Clair Drake, renowned professor of sociology and anthropology, an early researcher on black Americans and the founding Director of the Program in African & African American Studies at Stanford University.

His illustrious scholarly career is framed by the classic books, Black Metropolis (co-authored with Horace Cayton, 1945), and Black Folk Here and There (2 vols. 1987-1990). Professor St. Clair Drake died in 1990.

While studying at Stanford, Dr. Jemison experienced the legacy that is Saint Clair Drake while on the course toward completing all the requirements of a Major in African & Afro-American Studies (as it was called then). In addition to AAAS, she majored in Chemical Engineering and felt the pressures of being the only person of color in most of her classes. In spite of obstacles, her persistent efforts reaped the rewards she so passionately pursued. During this lecture Dr. Jemison focused on how her Major in AAAS impacted her ability to reach her goals.


Black Metropolis

A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City


“There’s a confidence about knowing yourself and your people that’s really important,” she said. “It gave me the confidence to know that every group of people had made contributions to this world.” “You have to believe in yourself first, then you have to believe that you have a right to be involved. That’s what AAAS helped me to know.” Her lecture was quite inspiring, highlighting the continued importance of AAAS today.


Since then AAAS has hosted prominent speakers such Angela Davis is 2012 who shared her research and perspective of the school to prison pipeline and a number of issues that continue to plague the black community. In 2013, AAAS assembled a panel of scholars (Stanford AAAS faculty director and Education Professor Arnetha Ball, Professor Graduate Stanford Law Professor Rick Banks, Stanford History Professor Allyson Hobbs, UCLA Historian and African American Scholar Robin Kelley, UC Berkeley Eductaion Professor Nai’lah Nasir) moderated by Tavis Smiley on “The state of Black America 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation: Honoring the Past, Defining the Future.”


This past spring, AAAS hosted a conversation with McArthur Genius Grant Recipient Professor Jennifer Eberhardt, entitled “Policing and Protecting Black Lives in the 21st Century”. She delivered an inspiring speech followed by a conversation with police chiefs.






Past St. Clair Drake Memorial Lectures


 Robin D.G. Kelley of Columbia University, " Jazz Folk Here & There: A Trans-Atlantic Conversation".
Hortense Spillers of Cornell University, "What is Black Culture"?
A panel discussion moderated by Lawrence D. Bobo, “St. Clair Drake: Scholar, Mentor, Friend”.
Manning Marable of Columbia University, “A Time for Martyrs: Deconstructing the Assassination of Malcolm X February 21, 1965”.
Brent Hayes Edwards of Rutgers University, “The Declassification of Theory: CLR James, Translation and Radical Pedagogy”.
Houston Baker of Vanderbilt University, “Just Enough for the City: Richard Wright and the Black Urban Imaginary”.
Charles Ogletree (’75) of Harvard School of Law, “Narrative Dialogue with Barack Hussein Obama: Traveling the road from Cambridge to Kenya and back”.
Valerie B. Jarrett (’78) Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement.
Mae Jemison (’77) a NASA Astronaut and Physician.
Angela Davis a Professor/Civil Rights Activist, “School to Prison Pipeline".
A panel discussion moderated by Tavis Smiley, “State of Black America 150 Years After the Emancipation Proclamation”
Harry Belafonte a Performer/Civil Rights Activist, “Activism and Racial Justice in America”
  2015 Jennifer Eberhardt, "Policing and Protecting Black Lives in the 21st Century"

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