Distinguished Professor Charles W. Mills (Philosophy) has died on September 20, 2021, at age 70 after battling cancer. He was an esteemed scholar and treasured colleague and mentor whose loss is deeply felt. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.
Professor Mills joined the Graduate Center faculty in 2016 and has been lauded, most recently with the Benjamin E. Lippincott Award, for his groundbreaking book The Racial Contract. More than 20 years after its publication, The Racial Contract remains a seminal philosophy text.
“He was indeed very distinguished, and this recent award shows you the kind of importance his work had,” said Professor Nickolas Pappas, executive officer of the Ph.D. Program in Philosophy. “It is inspiring debates and discussion.”
In a tribute to Mills, fellow philosopher Liam Kofi Bright, an assistant professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, wrote of Mills, “No survey of black political thought would be complete without him.”
Graduate Center Provost and Senior Vice President Steve Everett called The Racial Contract “one of the most insightful historical studies of race.” Everett, like many at the Graduate Center, expressed that he was shocked and saddened by Mills’ passing and reflected on his “his stunning contributions at the Graduate Center to our collective understanding of race.”
Beyond his influence in critical philosophy of race, Mills was widely known for his work in social and political philosophy, African American and Africana philosophy, ethics, and Marxist thought.
He wrote a total of six books, including Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race; From Class to Race: Essays in White Marxism and Black Radicalism; Contract and Domination (co-authored with Carole Pateman); Radical Theory, Caribbean Reality; and Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism. He also wrote over 100 journal articles, chapters, and commentaries.