Black Issues in Philosophy APA Committees: Status of Black Philosophers

APA Committees: Status of Black Philosophers

Committee Charge

The committee is charged with assessing and reporting on the status of black philosophers. Among its responsibilities are to identify unfair or discriminatory practices and to advise the board and the members of the association of ways in which they may be rectified; to advise black philosophers concerning means of overcoming discrimination that they may encounter; and to make reports and recommendations to the board concerning ways in which full and meaningful equality of opportunity can be provided to all individuals who seek to study, teach, or conduct research in philosophy.

The chair of this committee serves in an ex officio capacity on the committee on inclusiveness in the profession.

The committee also publishes the Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience, the editors of which serve in an ex officio capacity on this committee.

In addition, this committee presents the Joyce Mitchell Cook award, recognizing a book written by a trailblazing black woman philosopher.

Joyce Mitchell Cook Award

The Joyce Mitchell Cook award was established in 2014 and is presented biennially by the committee on the status of black philosophers in honor of Joyce Mitchell Cook, the first black woman to receive a Ph.D. in philosophy in the United States, recognizing a book written by a trailblazing black woman philosopher. Joyce Mitchell Cook (1933-2014)

Dr. Cook was the first African American woman to have been graduated from a professional philosophy program in the United States, and the first to receive a Ph.D. in Philosophy. She received a B.A. With Distinction in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College in 1955; a B.A. (1957) and M.A. (1961) in Philosophy and Psychology from St. Hilda’s College, Oxford; and was in residence at Yale University from 1957 to 1961, where she did a dissertation in the theory of value and received her Ph.D. in 1965. While at Yale, she was the first woman graduate student to be appointed as a teaching assistant, and was Managing Editor of the Review of Metaphysics. In that capacity she published frequent short reviews of recent philosophy books. Her commentaries remain models of clarity and philosophical acuity. After teaching at Howard University for many years and working in the White House as a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, she retired early to pursue her scholarly interests more fully. Her general areas of expertise were Ethics and Social and Political Philosophy. At the time of her death on 6 June 2014, she had been working on a manuscript on the concept of the black experience, which promised to be a major contribution to the field. Dr. Cook is interviewed in George Yancy, Ed. African-American Philosophers: 17 Conversations (New York: Routledge, 1998), pages 263-286.

Adrian Piper, Dr. Joyce Mitchell Cook, Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., 1996. Color photograph, 5 x 7”. Collection Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation. © APRA Foundation Berlin Adrian Piper, “Dr. Joyce Mitchell Cook (1933-2014),” © Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin. 

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