Distinguished professor Wilfred D. Samuels was born in 1947 in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, to Lena and Noel Samuels. Samuels earned his B.A. degree in English and Black Studies at the University of California, Riverside. In 1974, he went on to earn his M.A. degree in American Studies and African American Studies from the University of Iowa. He continued his education by receiving his Ph.D. in American Studies and African American Studies.
In 1978, Samuels was hired at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, where he served until 1985. Then, in 1985, Samuels served as an assistant professor at the University of Colorado and the Benjamin Banneker Honors College at Prairie View A&M in Texas. In 1987, Samuels joined the faculty of the University of Utah, where he is Associate Professor of English and Ethnic Studies, Director of the African American Studies Program, and Acting Coordinator of the Ethnic Studies Program.
In 1993, during the annual conference of the American Literature Association (ALA), Samuels founded the African American Literature and Culture Society (AALCS) in order to encourage the contextual research of African American Studies. The AALCS has presented several conferences including showcases introducing new poets and writers. Samuels has lectured in England, Africa, Japan and throughout Southeast Asia and has received many awards and recognitions including: the Ramona Cannon Award; the Students Choice Award and the University of Utah’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Samuels passed away on February 3, 2020.
Wilfred D. Samuels was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 17, 2008.