Gerald Early, Noted Essayist and Scholars, Asks, at His April 16 Pitt Lecture, "Is Black Music Criminal?"

Issue Date: 
April 15, 2013

Gerald Early,Gerald Early a noted essayist and a leading authority on American culture, will deliver a free public lecture at noon April 16 titled “Is Black Music Criminal?” The talk will be held at Pitt’s Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP), School of Social Work Conference Center, 20th floor, Cathedral of Learning.

Early’s lecture, rescheduled following a weather-related postponement in February, concludes CRSP’s Reed Smith Spring 2013 Speaker Series. Registration is not required; lunch will be provided. For more information, visit or call 412-624-7382.

Early is the Merle S. Kling Professor of Modern Letters and professor of English and of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also directs the Center for the Humanities. His research on and writing about American popular culture is extensive, encompassing, among other areas, music, sports, and 19th- and 20th-century African American and American children’s literature.

Early’s collections of essays include Tuxedo Junction: Essays on American Culture (Ecco Press, 1994); The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture (Ecco Press, 1994), which won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism; and This Is Where I Came In: Essays on Black America in the 1960s (Bison Books, 2003). He also is the author of the 1995 book One Nation Under a Groove: Motown and American Culture (revised and expanded edition, The University of Michigan Press, 2004). Early served as a consultant and on-air commentator for the Ken Burns documentary films Jazz (2000), Baseball (1994), and Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2005)—all of which aired on PBS.

Early also is a prolific anthologist. His most recent edited books are Best African American Essays 2010 and Best African American Fiction 2010, both part of Bantam Books’ annual Best African American Essays and Best African American Fiction series, for which Early has served as series editor. Other anthologies he has edited include The Sammy Davis, Jr. Reader (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001) and Miles Davis and American Culture (Missouri History Museum Press, 2001).

The Pitt Center on Race and Social Problems’ annual Reed Smith Speaker Series provides an opportunity for faculty, staff, students, and members of the community to engage in race-related discussions of mutual interest.