Saturday, October 22, 2011

Noted Black Scholar Rudolph Byrd Passes at the age of 58

professor rudolph byrd dies at the age of 58

Rudolph Byrd, a noted black scholar at Emory University, died at the age of 58.  Professor Byrd had been fighting cancer for many years, and succumbed to the illness this week. describes Byrd's life in the following way:

Mr. Byrd, an Emory professor for two decades, died Friday at Emory University Hospital after a long-running fight with cancer. He was 58.

He had just finished writing a series of lectures about race and sexuality to be presented at Harvard University. He was writing a biography of author Ernest Gaines, developing a monograph of the early novels of Alice Walker and collaborating with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. on an anthology of African-American poetry.

"He was one of my best friends," Mr. Gates said Friday. The two met in a graduate seminar at Yale University nearly four decades ago, and their friendship grew into a working relationship. "Of all the people who write about African-American literature and culture, there is no one that I admired more, and whose work I valued more."

The two co-edited a new edition of the 1923 novel "Cane" by Jean Toomer. They published it this year with new research about Toomer's race, contending that archival evidence proved he was black. The New York Times described the research as an "intellectual grenade."

Mr. Byrd founded an institute at Emory named after the author and NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson and was chair of the department of African-American studies. He also founded Emory's Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, which provides financial support for undergraduates.

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