Sociology Index

Edward Franklin Frazier

Edward Franklin Frazier (September 24, 1894 – May 17, 1962), was an American sociologist and author. His 1932 Ph.D. dissertation was published as a book titled The Negro Family in the United States in 1939. The dissertation analyzed the historical forces that influenced the development of the African-American family from the time of slavery to the mid-1930s. The Negro Family in the United States was awarded the 1940 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for the most significant work in the field of race relations. The Negro Family in the United States was among the first sociological works on blacks researched and written by a black person.

Edward Franklin Frazier was elected as the first black president of the American Sociological Association in 1948. Frazier wrote many books in his lifetime, including The Black Bourgeoisie, a critique of the black middle class in which he questioned the effectiveness of African-American businesses to produce racial equality.

He attended the Baltimore public schools, which were legally segregated then. Edward Franklin Frazier graduated in 1912 from the Colored High and Training School in Baltimore (Frederick Douglass High School). He graduated with honors from Howard in 1916. Frazier was a top scholar, pursuing Latin, Greek, German and mathematics.

Edward Franklin Frazier attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he earned a master's degree in 1920. The topic of his thesis was New Currents of Thought Among the Colored People of America. During his time at Clark, Frazier first began to study sociology, combining his approach with African-American history and culture. Edward Franklin Frazier spent 1920–1921 as a Russell Sage Foundation fellow at the New York School of Social Work (Columbia University).

In 1927 Edward Franklin Frazier published his article titled "The Pathology of Race Prejudice" in Forum. Using Freudian terms, he wrote that prejudice was "abnormal behavior," characteristic of "insanity," including dissociation, delusional thinking, rationalization, projection, and paranoia. Edward Franklin Frazier rightly argued, white people were literally driven mad by the "Negro-complex," to the point that "men and women who are otherwise kind and law-abiding will indulge in the most revolting forms of cruelty towards black people."

Edward Franklin Frazier's stature was recognized by his election in 1948 as the first black president of the American Sociological Association. At Howard, Frazier was a prominent member of the Howard School of International Affairs, where his scholarship and research augmented Race and Empire in International Affairs.

Edward Franklin Frazier adopted an approach that examined economic, political and attitudinal factors that shape the systems of social relationships. He continually pressed to find the "social reality" in any context he investigated. Frazier's position emphasized African-American cultural developments as a process of accommodation to new conditions in the Americas. Frazier's Black Bourgeoisie, the 1957 English translation of a work first published in French in 1955, was a critical examination of the adoption by middle-class African Americans of a subservient conservatism.