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Launching Our Black Children for Success
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The Ties That Bind: Timeless Values for African American Families
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The Ties That Bind: Timeless Values for African American Families
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Home:  >Browse Listings   >Authors   >Ladner, Joyce A.

Joyce A. Ladner

Sociologist Joyce A. Ladner was born October 12, 1943, in Battles, Mississippi, and grew up in Hattiesburg. She earned her B.A. at Tougaloo College in 1964 and her Ph.D. in 1968 at Washington University. She taught in colleges in Illinois, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, and Tanzania before joining the faculty at Hunter College of the City University of New York in 1973. Her research focuses largely on intergroup relations and minority issues in America. Her first book, Tomorrow’s Tomorrow: The Black Woman (1971), examines the forces that mold the self-perceptions of thirty black adolescent girls from a poor neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri. Despite potential obstacles such as racism, the book highlights the positive forces in these women’s lives, such as community and family. In dispelling the popular notion of low self-esteem among poor black women, Ladner notes that most of the girls she interviewed “have the determination to ‘make something’ of themselves, and self-hatred is practically non-existent.”

Ladner followed that book with Mixed Families: Adopting Across Racial Boundaries in 1977, a study of transracial adoption, a trend which had become popular in the late 1960s among white couples in part because of a shortage of white babies for adoption and an abundance of minority children. The trend was applauded at first as a key step toward tearing down racial barriers, but a competing philosophy began to emerge in the 1970s arguing that black children needed to grow up in black families to develop a positive self-image and a strong sense of identity. In an attempt to resolve the debate, Ladner interviewed 136 transracial adoptive families to see how they were coping with the issues that arose. What she found was a mixed bag, with some families agreeing that it would have been better for their black child to have grown up in a black family, while other families found the experience positive in fostering better understanding and appreciation between the races.

Ladner’s other books include The Ties That Bind: Timeless Values for African American Families (1999 and The New Urban Leaders (2001). She has edited The Death of White Sociology, a collection of essays, and co-edited several other books.

Ladner served as interim president of Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she also served as Vice President of Academic Affairs and professor of sociology. Named Washingtonian Magazine’s Washingtonian of the Year in 1997 for her work in education, today she is a senior fellow in the Governmental Studies program at the Brookings Institution.

(Article first posted April 2003)

Related Links & Info




  • Tomorrow’s Tomorrow: The Black Woman. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971.
  • Mixed Families: Adopting Across Racial Boundaries. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1977.
  • (Co-author with Janet C. Quint and Judith S. Musick.) Lives of Promise, Lives of Pain: Young Mothers After New Chance. New York: Manpower, 1994.
  • The Ties that Bind: Timeless Values for African American Families. New York: Wiley, 1999.
  • The New Urban Leaders. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institituion Press, 2001.
  • (Co-author with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo.) Launching Our Black Children for Success: A Guide for Parents of Kids from Three to Eighteen. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.

Books edited by the author:

  • (Editor.) The Death of White Sociology. (collection of essays). New York: Random House, 1973.
  • (Editor with Peter B. Edelman.) Adolescence and Poverty: Challenge for the 1990s. Washington, D.C.: Center for National Policy Press, 1991.
  • (Co-editor with Segun Gbadegesin.) Selected Papers from the Proceedings of the Conference on Ethics, Higher Education, and Social Responsibility. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1997.


Articles and Interviews:

Internet Resources

About the Author:

  • Joyce A. Ladner. Information about the author from the Brookings Institution.

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