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J. Herman Blake

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Information about J. Herman Blake

Profile image of J. Herman Blake

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
University President
Sociology Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Sky Blue
Favorite Food:
Sweet Potato Cobbler
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Central California
Favorite Quote:
Keep On Keepin' On.

Birthplace

Born:
3/15/1934
Birth Location:
Mt. Vernon, New York

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
University President
Sociology Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Sky Blue
Favorite Food:
Sweet Potato Cobbler
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Central California
Favorite Quote:
Keep On Keepin' On.

Birthplace

Born:
3/15/1934
Birth Location:
Mt. Vernon
See how J. Herman Blake is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Born John Herman Blake on March 15, 1934, Blake grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, as one of seven children raised by his single mother, Lylace E. Blake. Blake’s family lived in poverty, surviving only by welfare. Blake’s mother encouraged each of her children to participate and excel in school; all seven children completed high school; six received bachelor’s degrees; five achieved master’s degrees; and two earned doctorate degrees.

After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Blake continued his education with the assistance of the G.I. Bill; he enrolled in New York University in 1955, and received his B.A. degree in sociology in 1960. Blake went on to receive his M.A. degree and his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1966, Blake, as the Assistant Professor of Sociology, became the first African American on the University of California Santa Cruz faculty. During his eighteen year tenure, Blake also served as the Founding Provost of Oakes College at the University of California Santa Cruz.

After leaving the University of California Santa Cruz, Blake served as the President of Tougaloo College until 1987; held positions at Swarthmore College; served as the Vice Chancellor at Indiana University; and served as the Director of African American Studies at Iowa State University. In 2002, Blake was named Iowa Professor of the Year and received an Honorary Degree from Indiana University.In addition to his career in education, Blake published several projects including Revolutionary Suicide, an autobiography of Huey P. Newton, which was the result of his research on black militants in urban areas.

Blake also researched many other topics; his work made him a leading authority on the Gullah culture. Additionally, Blake served as the Scholar in Residence and Director of the Sea Island Institute at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort, an institution whose primary focus is the study and promotion of Gullah Cultures. In 2008, the Medical University of South Carolina appointed Blake as the first Humanities Scholar in Residence. Blake served as an advisor to the University’s Humanities Committee and to the President and Provost on matters of cultural enrichment.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of J. Herman Blake's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake recalls his childhood home in Mount Vernon, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake describes his paternal ancestry on Johns Island, South Carolina
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake describes his father, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake describes his father, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - J. Herman Blake describes his two oldest brothers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls the generosity of Lillian Tinsley
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake lists his siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake recalls living with the family of Thaddeus Wilson, Sr.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake describe his neighborhood in Mount Vernon, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake describes his early education in Mount Vernon, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake recalls his influences at Harlem Junior Academy in New York City, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake recalls his influences at Harlem Junior Academy in New York City, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls learning about African American history
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake recalls attending New York City's Harlem Junior Academy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake describes his early work experiences
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake remembers being drafted to the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake recalls being stationed in France
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake recalls his marriage to Bessie Jefferson Blake
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake remembers attending New York University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake recalls his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkley
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake describes his social activism in California
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake recalls testifying at Huey P. Newton's trial
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake remembers visiting Huey P. Newton in prison
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake recalls coauthoring 'Revolutionary Suicide'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake remembers author Alex Haley
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake describes his civil rights activity in the 1960s, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake describes his civil rights activity in the 1960s, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake remembers his mother's death
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls his mother's pride in his accomplishments
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake recalls founding Oakes College in Santa Cruz, California, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake recalls founding Oakes College in Santa Cruz, California, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake recalls designing a course for Oakes College
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake describes the significance of his lapel flower
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake describes his work with the Emil Schwarzhaut Foundation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake recalls the service projects he implemented in the Sea Islands
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls his students' interactions with the community of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake describes Pat Conroy's interpretation of Daufuskie Island
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake recalls lessons from the residents of Daufuskie Island
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake talks about Pat Conroy's book, 'The Water Is Wide'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake describes storyteller Thomas Stafford
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake recalls editing the journal of the National Black Law Students Association
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake remembers community activist Thomas Barnwell
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake describes the Penn Center on St. Helena Island, South Carolina
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls founding Oakes College in Santa Cruz, California
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake describes the faculty of Oakes College
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake describes the students at Oakes College
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake remembers Alex Haley's Kinte Library Project
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake describes his friendship with Alex Haley
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake recalls watching the filming of 'Roots'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake recalls Alex Haley's article about Daufuskie Island
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake recalls leaving Oakes College in Santa Cruz, California
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls his presidency at Mississippi's Tougaloo College
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake describes the financial challenges he faced at Tougaloo College
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake describes the students at Tougaloo College
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake describes his philosophy of learning
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake recalls a conflict with the alumni of Tougaloo College
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake recalls an incident of sexual assault at Tougaloo College