Remembering Clement Price
photo courtesy of the Star-Ledger
Dr. Clement Price touched countless lives with his words, his actions, and his knowledge.
Clement Price and African and African American History
Clement Price founded the Marion Thompson-Wright lecture series in 1980, a series that in time gained the attention of large numbers of academics. Nowhere else in the country, over decades, did first-class scholars lecture while not talking down to listeners from the community as during the Thompson-Wright lecture at the Paul Robeson Center in Newark. The absence of a divide between scholars and others owed much to Clement Price’s way of relating to his own students in history classes at Rutgers in the 1970s. It was a time of especially smart students from whom Price was known at times to take advice, even altering reading lists at the suggestion of very bright students who were reading widely. Some of those students have since been in the audience for Thompson-Wright lectures. Consequently, part of the initial impulse that led Price to look for cutting-edge scholarship continued with the Thompson-Wright series to make it perhaps the most distinguished lecture series directed by African Americans in the 20th century. That was my conclusion sometime after Clem and Giles Wright, Jr., his impressive collaborator, launched the series in 1980.
For awhile, however, I had concluded that Chicago’s Amistad Society, which I headed, had something of an edge not only because we invited an array of talented artists and scholars to address Chicago audiences but helped design the curriculum of the Mississippi Summer Project in 1964. Work with the Summer Project, a singular honor, I once thought had earned us an edge. In time, however, I realized that the social justice issues taken up by the civil rights movement had long been central to Clem’s life. Moreover, such issues were represented by many in the sophisticated audiences that numbered as many as one thousand on the Marion Thompson-Wright day in Newark. Indeed, Clem continued teaching by relating the movement to relevant scholarship over the entire course of the lecture series. When I said to David Roediger, at the time Distinguished Professor of History at the U. of Illinois, “You are certain to be invited to participate in the Marion Thompson-Wright lecture series,” the response was, “I’ve already been invited.”
While a far more detailed treatment of the Thompson-Wright lecture series is merited, we know that the Amistad Society promoted African American and African history from 1960 to 1964. In February 2015, the Marion Thompson-Wright lecture series will be in its thirty-fifth year. There is no other lecture series of such quality and reach in America.
- Sterling Stuckey, Professor Emeritus of History, U. of California, Riverside, California, Dec. 10, 2014
Dr. Clement A. Price was a brilliant and dedicated visionary, committed to accessible and relevant scholarship. He was also funny, kind, and humble.
We sure could use some Clement Price now! He would have had a contextualized, insightful, and hopeful message in the wake of the Ferguson verdict and in anticipation of the Brown jury. I hope and trust that he is sending wisdom to all of his academic descendants!
- Rosamond S. King (former Dodge Postdoctoral Fellow), Nov. 30, 2014
Clem Price was a man who had a profound effect on everyone he met. After our first few meetings, I told my husband how he had taken me on a tour of a neighborhood in Newark where we were considering buying a house. "Do you have 15 minutes?" Clem asked me. He then took me to Branch Brook Park to see the cherries blossoming and told me all about them. "He's Mr. Newark," I told my husband.
I only had the privilege of knowing Dr. Price for 6 months before his passing. When I told my husband about the eulogies that stressed over and over what a bridge builder Clem was, he said, "I'm sorry I'll never get to meet him." Those of us who knew Clem, even for a short while, know the poverty of the future we face without him. We can only do our best to try to build a richness of spirit and humanity moving forward that will honor him properly.
Rest in Peace, Dr. Price.
- Krista White, Nov. 19, 2014
Dr. Price was my mentor, he was the reason I became a history teacher. The first time I took a class with him was 1996, after that I became hooked. Between the years 1996 and 2000 I made sure that whatever class Dr. Price taught I would be in the front row. He brought history to life for me and countless other students. I never realized Newark had so much history and was such an important part of the history of our nation until I stepped into his class. He not only was a inspiring teacher, he generally cared about his students. The academic world has lost one of its greats, he will be missed tremendously.
- Sharon Ellis-Barnett, Nov. 19, 2014
There are few people that could brighten your day more than Clem Price with that wonderful smile of his and his warm, engaging personality. And of course, you also learned from him, and once you did, you were hooked. I became a lifelong member of the Clem Price fan club. He enlivened friendship, history, Rutgers, and Newark and so much more. He was a dear friend and colleague, and I shall miss him immensely.
- John W. Chambers, Rutgers, New Brunswick, Nov. 17, 2014
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