Black History Month: UWM Philosopher Dr. Cornelius Golightly 

Dr. Cornelius Golightly was the first Black faculty member of the Philosophy Department at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He originally was a member of the University of Wisconsin Extension College in Milwaukee which was one of the two schools that merged to become UWM in 1955. He remained a member of the Department of Philosophy until 1969 when he took a job at Wayne State University as Associate Dean and Professor of Philosophy.

During his time at UWM Dr. Golightly was a scholar, activist, and public philosopher. He published in top tier philosophy journals such as the Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Review, Philosophy of Science, The Monist, and the like. His academic work addressed philosophical topics of interest at the time (e.g., Mind-body Causation, The James Lange theory of emotion). Writings in more public venues engaged matters of concern to the Black educational community.  While in Milwaukee he was very active in public education. He was the first African American elected to the Milwaukee School Board. Dr. Golightly fought to introduce busing to promote the integration of Black students into schools throughout the city, and in the early 1960s he advocated for a federally sponsored free breakfast program for poor students. Unfortunately, both efforts were thwarted.

There is a biography of Cornelius Golightly in the most recent APA Newsletter for Philosophy and the Black Experience. It is a republished version of this article at Black Past:

Here is a partial bibliography of Dr. Golightly’s work (compiled by Margaret Atherton):

1941 Thought and Language in Whitehead’s Categories, Doctoral Dissertaion, University of Michigan

1942 “Negro Higher Education and Democratic Negro Morale” The Journal of Negro Education

1942 “England in East Africa”

1945 “The Psychopathology of Crime” The Journal of Negro Education

1945 “Negro Employment in the Federal Government” JADavis, CL Golightly, Phylon.

1947 “Race, Values and Guilt”, Social Forces

1947 “Social Science and Normative Ethics” The Journal of Philosophy

1951 “Inquiry and Whitehead’s Schematic Method” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

1952 “Mind-body, causation and correlation” Philosophy of Science

1952 “Legerdemain in Ethics” The Philosophical Review

1953 “The James-Lange theory: a logical post-mortem” Philosophy of Science

1955 “On Scientific Inference” The Midwest Sociologist

1956 “Value as a Scientific Concept” The Journal of Philosophy

1963 “De Facto Segregation in Milwaukee Schools” Integrated Education

1968 “The Negro and Respect for the Law” Chicago Daily Law Bulletin April 25, 1968

1971 “A Philosopher’s view of values and ethics” The Personnel and Guidence Journal

1972 “Ethics and Moral Activism” The Monist

1974 “Justice and ‘Discrimination For’ in Higher Education” Philosophic Exchange