Merze Tate

Barbara D. Savage

Born in rural Michigan during the Jim Crow era, the bold and irrepressible Merze Tate (1905–1996) refused to limit her intellectual ambitions, despite living in what she called a “sex and race discriminating world.” Against all odds, through her brilliance and hard work Tate earned degrees in international relations from Oxford University in 1935 and a doctorate in government from Harvard in 1941. She then joined the faculty of Howard University, where she taught for three decades of her long life spanning the tumultuous twentieth century.

This book revives and critiques Tate’s prolific and prescient body of scholarship, with topics ranging from nuclear arms limitations to race and imperialism in Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Her quest for adventure took her on extensive trips throughout Europe, as well as around the world twice, traveling solo with her cameras in hand. Tate credited her success to other women, Black and white, who help her realize her dream of becoming a scholar.

Barbara Savage’s lucid and skilled rendering of Tate’s story is built on more than a decade of research. Tate’s life and work challenge provincial approaches to African American and American history, women’s history, the history of education, diplomatic history, and international thought.

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