The Life of Edgar Epps essay

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Edgar Epps is one of the few notable, nationally recognizable African American scholars in the United States. His career was founded on and propelled by a profound understanding for the importance of education in the Black liberation struggle and his early interest in issues related to social stratification and social mobility. A sociologist at the University of Chicago who also writes about education, Epps mentored many African American scholars in both subject areas. This entry looks at his life and achievements.

Biographical Sketch

Edgar Epps was the second of seven children (five grew up to be educators). Epps spent his early years in Arkansas; he was born in Little Rock on 3rd October 1929. He was reared in Woodson where he pursued his education at primary level, before returning to Little Rock to complete high school after his parents insisted he attend a more academically challenging institution. On graduation from Dunbar High School in Little, professor Edgar Epps studied his degree at Talladega College in Chicago, graduated with a master’s degree from Atlanta University and finally a Ph.D. in sociology from Washington State University in Washington.

Edgar Epps is considered as one of the few notable, acknowledgeable, nationally recognizable African American scholars in the United States. His career was founded on and propelled by a profound understanding for the importance of education in the Black liberation struggle and his early interest in issues related to social stratification and social mobility. He is a sociologist at the University of Chicago and also writes about education.

Among the books that he wrote included; Black Students in White Schools; black Consciousness; College in black and White; Cultural Pluralism; Current Perspective; Reconstructing the Schools; Law and Contemporary Problems; and Journal of Education.

Edgar G. Eppshad an outstanding position at the university of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as the senior professor associated with the department of educational policy and community studies. He was also a professor at the University of Chicago lecturing an urban Educational Emeritus. Considering his prior experience and activities, he held different ranks at the University of Michigan, Tuskegee University and Florida University. Not forgetting to mention Harvard University, and Carleton College as a visiting professor.

During the entire course of his career, Professor Edgar Epps has successfully managed to attain several awards. Recently, he was awarded with Dubois award of the American Sociological Association. He also managed to grab the Harold E. Delaney Exemplary Leadership award of the American Association of Higher Education’s Black Caucus in 1997. Finally he was honored at a symposium in celebration after his retirement by his former students in 1998.


Edgar G. Epps writings based on the African American education. Through his writing, he has been able to transform and affect the life of the African American by a greater margin. He has influenced the African American in almost every subject (Epps, 1972).

Since his first book, has successfully managed to alter and inflict new ideas based on the importance of education, and cultivated the idea in the minds of the African American population.

He can be regarded as the core founder of wisdom and awareness in the African American population. He is attributed as the key element of eradicating the medieval mind of cultural aspects and beliefs among the African American population. He eroded the stupid ideas of the population by creating awareness of education and highlighting its benefits through the various examples illustrated in most of his writings. Most of his ideas revolved around the nature, condition and the position of an illiterate society perceived by cultural ethnics and beliefs of being undermined by race and gender.

Professor Edgar Epps has been a loyal servant to the United States Department of Education as a consultant. He was also able to offer his services to both the Southern Educational Foundation and the Chicago Board of Education as a consultant. During the entire period before he retired he acted as an expert witness in the Knight Alabama higher education desegregation in 1994. And also he was active member of the American Sociological Association in 1996.



Despite of all these personal achievements, Edgar Epps gave primary and vital attention to his role as a teacher. He was considered as a demanding, patient, inspiring and resourceful teacher. Throughout his teaching period, he established a special place for his work as a mentor. Not only that his door was open to welcome students, but he sought out students of color to encourage them toward lives of scholarship and to show them how to live such lives. He took a holistic approach to examine the persistent challenges of deteriorating urban schools, chronic social problems and the disgusting educational outcomes that were associated with the African American students. As society continues to confront and struggle with many of the same problems concerning Black children’s access and equity in education that were common, most of the solutions were attributed from the ideas, advise and thoughts of professor Edgar Epps.

Based on his school “the Chicago school for contemporary scholarship about race and educational achievement”, it attributed the essence of pressing need at time to understand two powerful forces shaping the social landscape of America: urbanization and immigration (Epps, 1972).

Professor Edgar Epps emphasized that the social and cultural assimilation ultimately practiced by the Chicago school’s hampered the perspective’s ability to provide balanced appraisals of African American culture, institution and people. His career was founded upon and propelled by a profound understanding for the importance of education in the Black liberation struggle. He argued strongly that race was not a factor in achieving academically.” It doesn’t matter what color you are, if you wanna learn, you will. If you don’t, you won’t.” He also insisted “what matters is what a person can do.”

In spite of the progress, African American children continue to encounter barriers to academic success due to the historical, cultural, and social factors that have shaped the pervasive attitudes of racism that permeate the American social structure and the educational system. In this lecture, I point out that the quality of education available to children is directly related to the relative power, prestige, and wealth of their families. Schools, as institutional agents of society, are designed to maintain established patterns of domination and subordination among competing groups. Therefore, to the extent that they perpetuate racial, ethnic, social class, and gender inequality in access to educational, and ultimately, occupational opportunity, the "failing schools" attended by African American children are actually very successful in carrying out their unwritten, but clearly understood, mandate to keep the door of educational opportunity closed to the majority of African American children.

One example of the continuing impact of the legacy of racial oppression is the gradual dismantling of school desegregation programs in urban school districts. Resistance to desegregation expressed as White flight, followed by a series of court decisions declaring many urban districts to be "unitary," has resulted in desegregation and a renewal of the call for a focus on "neighborhood schools." Therefore, African American (and Latino) children are nearly as segregated in urban schools today as they were forty years ago. A conservative U. S. Supreme Court, after dismantling the desegregation programs of the past thirty years, is now considering affirmative action in higher education. A repudiation of the University of Michigan’s affirmative action program would have a devastating impact on African American students' access to highly selective colleges and universities.

Although as Du Bois pointed out (Journal of Negro Education, July 1935), there is no magic in either racially mixed or racially segregated schools, there is considerable evidence that America has not provided high quality education in racially segregated public schools. Research has consistently found that racially segregated public schools are overwhelmingly likely to have to contend with the educational impacts of concentrated poverty. A large proportion of the schools identified by state testing programs as low performing are racially segregated schools with concentrated poverty. Schools with the highest proportions of poor children are particularly disadvantaged.

At the other extreme, recent research has verified the existence of a racial achievement gap in racially mixed schools in affluent suburban school districts. The frustrating question in this case is why the children of highly educated and relatively affluent African Americans lag well behind the children of comparable Whites.  Part of the answer appears to be that African American students are over-represented in low-level classes and under-represented in high-level classes (Honors, Advanced Placement). Thus, the continued use of practices such as ability grouping and tracking, in concert with conscious or unconscious racial stereotyping that affects grading practices, limits the academic opportunities of African American students even in "successful" school districts. In his latest book, Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement (2003), he also represents the issues outlined above.


Discrepancies in the application of school discipline policies in the past have driven much concern about the current wave of zero tolerance approaches to school discipline and order. Many of the African American considered education and success belonged to the white not until when professor Edgar Epps washed away that thought and struggled so hard without fear by editing books that created awareness of eradicating racism and chauvinism among the people and the whites of Chicago.

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