Earl Wright II is Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Cincinnati. Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, he graduated with the diploma from Trezevant High School in 1989. Later that year he entered college on a football scholarship at Kentucky State University (K-State). After a successful two year stint as the team’s starting wide receiver, he was ‘compelled’ to leave Frankfort because of his low grade point average. It is provident that he was ‘compelled’ to leave K-State since it is likely that he would not have graduated had he remained there. Upon his return to Memphis he began to take college seriously and eventually earned a BA (1994) in History and MA (1997) in Sociology from the University of Memphis. In 2000 Earl took the doctorate in Sociology at the University of Nebraska, where he founded a chapter of the Black Graduate Student Association. Later that year he joined the Department of Sociology at the University of Central Florida. Over his career Dr. Wright has served as faculty at the University of Central Florida, Fisk University, Texas Southern University (as chairperson of the Department of Sociology) and, now, at the University of Cincinnati.
Dr. Wright is the nation’s leading authority on W. E. B. Du Bois and the Atlanta Sociological Laboratory – the moniker bestowed on scholars engaged in sociological inquiry at Atlanta University (now called Clark Atlanta University) between 1895 and 1917. His groundbreaking research has altered our understanding of the discipline’s formative years in this nation. Specifically, his research brought to our attention that the first American school of sociology was established at Atlanta University (1895-1917), not the University of Chicago (1915-1930). Also, he proved that the Atlanta Sociological Laboratory was the first American sociological unit to 1) institutionalize the use of insider researchers; 2) institutionalize the public acknowledgement of the limitations of one’s research; and 3) institutionalize method triangulation (or mixed methods). It is because of his excellence in “research on race and the South” that he will be awarded the Charles S. Johnson Award by the Southern Sociological Society in April 2016.
In addition to his expertise on W. E. B. Du Bois and the many under recognized early African American, male and female, sociologists, Dr. Wright is a leading authority on the infusion of hip hop into the academic curriculum. The author of numerous publications on the topic, he emphasizes the need/utility for expanding the teaching methods in academia such that a more expansive, and pop culture influenced, generation of students can better learn and apply the tenets of hip hop to their daily life.
Without question, Dr. Wright’s greatest academic pleasure is bringing to this nation’s attention the contributions of early and unknown/little known African American sociologists and social scientists who contributed to the development of one of the greatest tools for social advancement in the world – the social sciences!