In Memoriam: Professor Jerry Gafio Watts

November 19, 2015


November 18, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

I write to share the sad news that Professor Jerry Gafio Watts passed away on Monday, November 16, after suffering a stroke two weeks ago.

A leading scholar of African American political thought, Professor Watts was appointed to the Ph.D. Program in English in 2004, where he taught courses on James Baldwin, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright. He was also a faculty member in the Ph.D. Program in Sociology, as well as in American Studies and Africana Studies. He also taught in the Master's Program in Liberal Studies. For many years he was the director of the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC).

Professor Watts was best known for his books Heroism and the Black Intellectual: Reflections on Ralph Ellison, Politics, and Afro-American Intellectual Life (1994) and Amiri Baraka: The Politics and Art of a Black Intellectual (2001). These studies explore the work of two major twentieth-century writers in terms of Black literary, intellectual, and political experience in the United States. We mourn the loss of such a devoted and inspiring teacher.

Details on memorial services and remembrances will be posted very soon. On behalf of the Graduate Center community, I extend my deepest condolences to Professor Watts' spouse, Rev. Dr. Traci West, and to his many students, colleagues, friends, and admirers.

Kind regards,

President's signature

Chase F. Robinson