Gerald Early gets star on St. Louis Walk of Fame

Washington University Professor Gerald L. Early, PhD, an internationally renowned essayist and American culture critic, was recognized with a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame during an April 11 induction ceremony in front of the Moonrise Hotel on Delmar Boulevard in The Loop.

The St. Louis Walk of Fame consists of more than 130 sets of brass stars and bronze plaques honoring individuals from the St. Louis area who have made major national contributions to America’s cultural heritage.

Joe Edwards, founder of the St. Louis Walk of Fame and owner of numerous Loop businesses, including the Moonrise and Blueberry Hill, noted that Early was joining other WUSTL literary luminaries on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

“It’s nothing short of phenomenal how many people in the St. Louis Walk of Fame have some connection to Washington University,” he said. “Either they attended, they taught or have done research there.”

Gerald L. Early, PhD (left), receives a plaque from Joe Edwards marking Early’s induction into the St. Louis Walk of Fame during an April 11 ceremony in front of the Moonrise Hotel on Delmar Boulevard in The Loop.

In his induction speech, Early talked about lessons he learned while growing up in a tight, working-class neighborhood in South Philadelphia. Among the people he thanked was his mother, who was in the audience. “My mother, a widow during my childhood and adolescence, provided me with a wonderful childhood and gave me a set of tough, realistic values by which to measure and criticize life.” To read his talk from the ceremony, visit here.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, who spoke during the ceremony, congratulates Early. In his remarks, Wrighton said that he normally does not celebrate failure, but noted one time early in his career that he was thankful for not succeeding. That was when Wrighton was provost at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he tried wooing Early from WUSTL to MIT.

Colleagues, friends and family — including his mother, sister and cousin from Philadelphia and in-laws from Dallas — attended Gerald Early’s St. Louis Walk of Fame induction ceremony. Early, a professor of English, of African and African-American studies, and of American culture studies, all in Arts & Sciences, recently stepped down as director of the Center for the Humanities after more than 11 years in that position. The center and African and African-American studies hosted a reception for Early later in the day in the Women’s Building Lounge.
(Credit: All Photos by Whitney Curtis)