Leonard A. Slade Jr.

Poet and civil rights scholar; studies black literature/history and works of Herman Melville

The World Within Reach
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Leonard A. Slade Jr.

College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Africana Studies

Black literature; black history; black poetry; and 19th century American literature, particularly author Herman Melville; American literary bibliography

Campus phone: (518) 442-4726
Campus email: [email protected]


Leonard A. Slade Jr. is a professor of Africana Studies and adjunct professor of English at the University at Albany. Slade is the past director of the Doctor of Arts in Humanistic Studies Program and past director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program.

He taught for twenty-two years at Kentucky State University, where he was Chair of the Division of Literature, Languages, and Philosophy, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In May 1989, Kentucky State University awarded him the degree Doctor of Humane Letters. In May 1996, Elizabeth City State University (a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina System) awarded him a Doctor of Humane Letters degree. For several summers, he studied poetry at Bennington College, Vermont; at The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Middlebury College, Vermont; and at the Ragdale Artists’ Colony, Lake Forest, Illinois. He studied with Pulitzer Prize Winners Stephen Dunn and Donald Justice.

He has published in Essence Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, The Courier-Journal, Ebony Magazine, The College Language Association Journal, The American Poetry Review, The Zora Neale Hurston Forum, The English Journal: Publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, The Journal of Southern History, The Black Scholar, The Kentucky Poetry Review, KOLA Magazine (in Canada), Emerge Magazine, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Catalyst, The ALAN Review: Publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, Little Magazine, The Griot: Journal of the Southern Conference on African-American Studies, and Education Next: Journal of Opinion and Research at Harvard University, to name a few. He has published 23 books, including 18 books of poetry: Another Black Voice: A Different Drummer (1988), The Beauty of Blackness (1989), I Fly Like a Bird (1992), The Whipping Song (1993), Vintage (1995), Fire Burning (1995), Pure Light (1996), Neglecting the Flowers (1997), Lilacs in Spring (1998), Elisabeth and Other Poems (1999), For the Love of Freedom (2000), Jazz After Dinner (2006), Triumph (2010), Sweet Solitude (State University of New York Press, 2010), The Season (2011), Chasing the Wind (2012), and God Put a Rainbow in the Sky (2014). Sweet Solitude was a bestseller at the State University of New York Press. Six of his books were published by McGraw-Hill Publishing Companies and two by the State University of New York Press. Nobody Knows is his eighteenth book of poetry.

Slade received the Editor’s Choice Award for six of his poems which were published in the Today’s Best Poets Anthology (Summer 2013). Symbolism in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick: From the Satanic to the Divine (1998) is his second book of literary criticism. Slade’s books have been sold in China, Japan, India, Finland, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, and Italy. He has read his poetry at Ohio State, Williams College, Skidmore College, Norfolk State, Virginia State, the Universities of Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas, Illinois, Tufts, Duke, and Harvard, among others.

Slade is Past Chair and currently Professor of Africana Studies (Tenured), Adjunct Professor of English, and Past Director of the Humanistic Studies Doctoral Program and of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at the State University of New York at Albany. He is also The Edmund J. James Scholar in English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In November 2007, he was named Citizen Academic Laureate at SUNY Albany. In April 2005, he was named a Collins Fellow at UAlbany.

A past member of the National Research Center on the Teaching of Literature, he has been the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award at Kentucky State University and at the State University of New York, Albany; The Professor of the Year Award from the SUNY NAACP Chapter; The Langston Hughes Society Distinguished Service Award; The Distinguished Service Award from Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society; The Kentucky Humanities Council Grant; The Hudson Mohawk Association of Colleges and Universities Award; The Northeast Modern Language Association Research Fellowship; The Ford Foundation Fellowship; The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education Award in Washington, D.C.; The U.S. Department of State Fellowship for Postdoctoral Study in West Africa; The Ragdale Artists’ Fellowship, Lake Forest, Illinois; The Southern Conference on African-American Studies Book Award; The Poetry Gold Medal of Excellence and The Editor’s Choice Award from Poetryfest in Oregon; and the Poet of the Year Award from The Institute for Advanced Poetic Studies.

Under his leadership as Chair of the Department of Africana Studies, the Master’s Program in Africana Studies was ranked number two in the nation in number of students graduated three years in a row (2005, 2006, and 2007). He lives with his wife in Albany, New York.

Slade received the bachelor’s degree in English from North Carolina’s Elizabeth City State University, the master’s degree in English from Virginia State University, and the Ph.D. in English degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.