By Donald Gilpin | Photos courtesy of Princeton University, Office of Communications, Denise Applewhite
The day I interviewed him for this article, September 23, was not a good day for Eddie S. Glaude Jr., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of Princeton University’s Department of African American Studies. It was the day that the verdict was delivered on the shooting of Breonna Taylor by three police officers in Louisville, Kentucky. None of the three was charged in Taylor’s death, though one officer was charged with wanton endangerment.
Glaude interrupted the call at one point to listen to the breaking news report on TV. When he returned to the phone, his voice was subdued. “I wasn’t expecting much,” he said, “but it’s still enraging. It never stops. It seems as if something happens every day.”
With numerous publications on religion, philosophy, and African American studies, including his most recent book Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, Glaude is very much a scholar engulfed in the world of academics, but at the same time he is the most public of intellectuals, much in demand as a Time magazine columnist and a regular commentator on radio and television news programs such as Democracy Now!, Morning Joe, and The 11th Hour.
The mix of deep engagement with current events as well as scholarship pervades Glaude’s classroom, as it pervades his life and his work. He described the class, African American Studies and the Philosophy of Race, that he is team teaching, remotely this term, with his colleague Imani Perry.
“Teaching today,” he said, “before I could say anything I had to reference the backdrop of the Breonna Taylor decision about to be rendered. And you could see it on the students’ faces: ‘Here we go again. It just won’t stop.’” more