In Memoriam: "Ples" Sterling Stuckey.

PositionIn memoriam

P. Sterling Stuckey (1932-2018) was an expert in African American history and was specifically interested in the cultural history of enslaved persons of African descent in the United States, and abroad. At the time of his unexpected passing, he was a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California at Riverside.

Stuckey joined the ancestors on August 15, 2018. He was born in 1932 in Memphis, Tennessee. His mother, Elma Earline Johnson Stuckey was a teacher in Memphis, a hat checker, maid, and eventually, a supervisor for the Illinois labor department in Chicago, Illinois as the family settled in the "Windy City" in 1945, as part of the "Great Migration" of African Americans in the North, in what pioneering Black American sociologist St. Clair Drake term the "Black Metropolis" of Chicago. Stuckey worked as a part-time public school teacher, postal worker, and Civil Rights organizer as he earned a Bachelors, Masters, and eventually a doctorate from Northwestern University, in 1972. He joined the faculty ranks at Northwestern one year before he received his Ph. D. in 1971 as an Associate Professor, and in 1977, he became a full Professor in the Department of History.

While at Northwestern, Stuckey also held numerous other prestigious positions, such as: the Hill Foundation Visiting Research Professor at the University of Minnesota (1970-1971), Visiting Research Fellow at UCLA (1975-76), an Andrew Mellon Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (1980-1981), and a Senior Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. (1987-1988). In 1989, he took the position of UC Presidential Chair at the University of California at Riverside in the Department of History. Although he did obtain a Fellowship at the Humanities Research Institute at the University of California, Irvine (1991-1992), he stayed at the University of California at Riverside for the remainder of his academic career.

Stuckey is best known for his 1987 path-breaking book Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundation of Black America, which was reissued by Oxford University Press in 2013, as a 25th Anniversary edition. The main argument of this volume is that during the period of enslavement, African American captives remained essentially African in their culture, particularly in the development and use of African...

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