Inaugural Williams Lecture: Robert Sellers (University of Michigan) – “The Souls of Black Folk: The Role of Race in the Psychological Lives of African Americans”

October 23, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Wilson Hall 214 (Danforth Campus)

“The Souls of Black Folk: The Role of Race in the Psychological Lives of African Americans”


The Inaugural Robert L. Williams Lecture is hosted by the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences.

Reception to follow after the lecture in lounge area next to Wilson 214

The present talk honors Robert L. Williams’ many contributions to the field of psychology. In his seminal work, “Souls of Black Folk”, W. E. B. DuBois (1903) suggested that the only way that African Americans can develop healthy self-concepts within American society is to come to “an understanding” within themselves regarding the duality of their status as African and American. We argue that the nature of “this understanding” varies across African Americans. Our research has attempted to explicate and describe the role that race plays in the psychological lives of African Americans. Over the past two decades, my research team has proposed and operationalized a conceptual framework for understanding the complexity and variation by which African Americans define themselves in the context of race (commonly referred to as racial identity attitudes). The present talk presents some of the findings that demonstrates that the variation in African American’s racial identity attitudes is associated with how African American’s experiences the world including experiences with racial discrimination and has consequences for a variety of important life outcomes. Consistent with the legacy of Robert L. Williams, the presented research has been conceptualized, analyzed, and interpreted in a manner that centers the experiences of African Americans and explicitly foregrounds their humanity as a core assumption of the research program.

For inquiries contact psych@wustl.edu