Sociology Department Hosts Dr. Lois Benjamin, Professor Emerita at Hampton University, as she explores the role of the Black family in her new book, Feb. 15

The Hampton University Department of Sociology is proud to announce as its guest speaker for Black History Month, Dr. Lois Benjamin, Professor Emerita of Sociology at Hampton University. On Thursday, February 15, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. in the Harvey Library Meeting Room, Dr. Benjamin will explore the role of the Black family as she unveils her new book, “Ascension: The Sociology of an African American’s Generational Journey.”

In this masterful work of family-focused sociology, Dr. Benjamin considers the lives of Pennie and Roscoe James and their children, revealing how a large, close-knit African American family with humble origins in a small town of North Carolina is shaped by the contours of its religious and ethical value system. Despite the challenges of daily experiences, the James elders transmitted values to their children that provided them with the resources to thrive and the resilience to meet adversity. The James children recount their personal, unique perspectives on how faith, familial solidarity, and savvy entrepreneurship led to their continued generational success.

Dr. Benjamin uses a blend of ethnographic and qualitative methods to place the James family’s experiences in a broader historical context. In doing so, she shows that the family’s values of compassion, empathy, and communitarian and enterprising spirit offer hope in this polarized society.

“We are excited to host Dr. Benjamin as she returns to “Our Home by the Sea,” to share with us this groundbreaking book of the strength and resiliency of the Black family, providing a platform for our University community to come together and discover state-of-the-art research techniques to highlight the role of the Black family in society,” said Dr. David Taylor, Chairperson of the Department of Sociology.

Lois Benjamin is professor emerita of sociology at Hampton University and author of several books, including The Black Elite: Still Facing the Color Line in the Twenty-First Century, Three Black Generations at the Crossroads, Dreaming No Small Dreams: William R. Harvey’s Visionary Leadership, and Black Women in the Academy: Promises and Perils.