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E[dward]. Franklin Frazier (1894-1962) was one of the most prolific sociologists of the 20th century. Through his nine books, more than 100 articles, and countless lectures, he helped to shape how African Americans were perceived and studied. Frazier spent the majority of his career in Washington.

Frazier grew up in nearby Baltimore, where he experienced firsthand the impact of racism. Frazier used to tell the story of how, as a young boy, he would spit at the Johns Hopkins University buildings because of Hopkins's whites-only admissions policy. Frazier received his undergraduate degree from Howard University in 1916, a Master's degree in sociology from Clark University in 1920, and the Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago in 1931. He served as professor and chair of the Sociology Department at Howard University from 1934 until 1959, one of a number of scholar-activists. He helped transform the department into a major research center. With Rayford Logan, he founded the Department of African Studies at Howard.

Frazier's groundbreaking books include Black Bourgeoisie (1957), The Negro in the United States (1949) and The Negro Church in America (published posthumously in 1964). One of his most innovative books — Negro Youth at the Crossways (1940) — focused on young women and men in Louisville, Kentucky, and Washington, DC, at a time when the study of youth was still relatively new. Despite being an avowed atheist, one of Frazier's favorite research subjects was organized religion, which he recognized as a historically important institution for African Americans.

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