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Bill Strickland

William Strickland was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from the distinguished Boston Latin School. After graduating from Boston Latin, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Upon completing his entlistment, He was honorably discharged and entered Harvard. While attending Harvard, he became involved in the Student Movement. After graduating, he became more fully involved in social change, particularly in the Black Consciousness Movement.

Along with Vincent Harding and Robert Hill, he was one of the founders and key members of the Institute of the Black world (IBW). The IBW was a Black Think Tank whose members viewed it as both a political and an intellectual project. Its intention was to provide rigorous conceptual, social, political and economic analysis of the Black Freedom Struggle. Strickland, representing the IBW, was one of the principle drafters of the National Black Agenda, approved by the National Black Assembly held in Gary, Indiana, in 1972, and subsequently adopted by the Congressional Black Caucus.

When Strickland left the IBW, he accepted a position in the Department of Black Studies at U. Mass Amherst, subsequently named The W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies, the second department in the country to offer the PhD in Black Studies.

Bill Strickland is Associate Professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies, College of Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is also Director of the DuBois Papers Collection. The papers are housed at the University of Massachusetts library, named in honor of DuBois, who was a Massachusetts native—as is Strickland. Like Dubois, Strickland is also a Harvard graduate. He was a founding member of the Black Think Tank, the Institute of the Black World, established in Atlanta, in 1969. An activist during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, he was a consultant to both series of he prize-winning television documentary on the Civil Rights Movement, “Eyes on the Prize.” He continues to work on documentary films.

Biographical Information

William Strickland’s first visit to Sacramento was in October of 1980 for the Working Conference on the Black Political Party, where among such luminaries as Harold Cruse, Maulana Karenga, Manning Marable, James Turner, and Ron Daniels, he was invited to deliver the Keynote Address. His title was, “The Americanization of the Race.” He opened with a shock for his Sacramento audience by explaining that as he was doing research for his talk, he discovered that the first two statewide California Black political conventions were held in Sacramento, in 1855 and in 1856. No one in the audience had entertained the slightest speculation that such events had ever happened.

The invitation he received to speak here was par for the course for Strickland. He is in constant demand as a guest speaker. His presentations are always learning experiences, even if one is afraid to listen. He comes prepared, whether his audience is or not. His purpose is to stimulate us.

He was mentored by the best. He knew Malcolm X personally. Strickland and Minister Louis Farrakhan once attended the same school. Along with Vincent Harding, the principal supporters of the Black World Institute were giants in their own right: C.L.R. James, Walter Rodney, St. Clair Drake, Lerone Bennett, Jr.; Joyce Ladner, as well as his colleague Bobby Hill.

The BWI mission that engulfed him for so long, helped define the focused intellectual power he brought to his work. He wrote many working papers, articles, and essays for the BWI. He represented the Institute in many settings. Collectively, they saw their overall objective as developing a Black University; a Black agenda; and a conceptual framework for realizing that agenda that went beyond liberation, nationalism, and Marxism. He has never lost sight of that need for a conceptual transformation, anchored in dynamic structures capable of realizing them.

That is why if we look almost randomly at his speaking schedule, we find him - on February 18th, giving an interview for WBAI FM in NYC, on an “Economic Update;” speaking at the University of Nebraska, Omaha about “Malcolm X: The Theoretician We Never Knew” ; delivering the Featured Keynote for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, “Malcolm X the most unyielding Critic of American Racism: his relevance for 2013”; leading the Public Speaker Series of the Robert W. Woodruff Library, under the Auspices of Kennesaw State University.

That is why we cannot “be hating” on him for his annual summer idyll on the island of Ibiza.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books

Film Credits (consultant)