Barbara D. Savage, "Merze Tate: The Global Odyssey of a Black Woman Scholar" (Yale UP, 2023)


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, the brilliant and hardworking 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.

Merze Tate: The Global Odyssey of a Black Woman Scholar
(Yale UP, 2023) revives and critiques Tate’s prolific and prescient body of scholarship, with topics ranging from nuclear arms limitations to race and imperialism in India, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Tate credited her success to other women, Black and white, who helped her realize her dream of becoming a scholar. Her quest for research and adventure took her around the world twice, traveling solo with her cameras.

Barbara Savage’s 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.

Omari Averette-Phillips is a History educator based in Southern California. He can be reached at

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Omari Averette-Phillips

Omari Averette-Phillips is a doctoral student in the department of history at UC Davis. He can be reached at

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