The Roots and Routes of Imperium in Imperio: St. Clair Drake, The Formative Years

Andrew J. Rosa


In recognition of the centenary of his birth, this consideration of St. Clair Drake’s formative years highlights the roots of specific cultural communities and routes of migrations that influenced his sociological imagination prior to the writing of Black Metropolis (1945) with Horace Cayton. Reflecting a connection to the West Indies and United States, Drake’s identity and worldview linked multiple communities into a single socio-economic entity across a shifting geography of race. Each represented a distinctive black response to social alienation and correlated with what Drake experientially came to know as differentiated systems of advantages within which black people organized a separate institutional life and culture. The culmination of his experiences within this context formed the basis for his earliest understanding of American society as well as himself as the product of a Black Atlantic world that was reshaped by the post-emancipation migrations of populations made vulnerable by the upheavals of capitalism and the caste-enforcing structures of white supremacy in the early twentieth century.

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American Studies. ISSN 0026-3079.

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