Dr. Richard L. Price—"Doc Price"—an associate professor of mathematics at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, has had a long and distinguished career in academics. He has devoted himself to recruiting black students to Lamar, to mentoring students, and to preparing them for careers in engineering, mathematics, and the sciences.
Price served 13 months of combat duty in Korea as a U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Prairie View A&M University of Texas, a historically black university about 40 miles from Houston. He earned his master's degree in mathematics with a minor in philosophy from the University of Texas in Austin. Price began his teaching career at Prairie View A&M University in September of 1956. During a leave-of-absence from Prairie View, he studied at Iowa State University, the University of California-Los Angeles, and Ohio State University (OSU) with the assistance of National Science Foundation and Academic Year Institute grants. Price earned his doctoral degree in mathematics education from OSU.
In August of 1970 Price joined the Department of Mathematics at Lamar as an associate professor. During the early 1970s, he again took a leave of absence, this time to study religion at Yale Divinity School were he earned a master's degree in religion in 1972. During this period Price also served as associate director of the engineering program at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. At Lamar Price taught trigonometry, precalculus and calculus, and analytical geometry. Over the years he also taught at Central State University, a historically black public university in Wilberforce, Ohio, at Ohio Northern University, and Michigan State University.
At Lamar, Price served as the College of Engineering's Director of Minority Recruitment and Retention. The LU News Website quoted Dr. Price: "The minority recruiting and retention program is committed to providing scholarships, internships, and other opportunities for traditionally under represented students." Under Price the program partnered with various companies and organizations—including the DuPont Corporation and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering—to provide educational opportunities for eligible students.
Although many black freshmen entered Lamar's engineering program, a large number dropped out by the end of their first year. Price helped his students found a chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and served as the chapter's advisor. The NSBE is a 15,000-member organization that works to increase the participation of black Americans in the engineering professions. As the Lamar chapter raised scholarship funds for black engineering students, retention improved. Entrepreneur and businessman Paul Fregia, a 1981 Lamar graduate, told Lamar University's Cardinal Cadence in the spring of 2004: "People like Dr. Richard Price were pillars in my life—people who helped me to believe that I could take the next step, and that my dreams could be endless."
Dr. Price served on the National Advisory Board of the NSBE for 20 years. He advised NBSE student leaders on membership issues and contributed significantly to the creation and development of NSBE's Pre-College Initiative for encouraging middle- and high-school African American students in math and science. In announcing Price's retirement from the board in 2002, Chairman Gary S. May said: "For Doc Price's unprecedented tenure on the National Advisory Board and his innumerable contributions to our growth as the premier organization for African American engineering students and professionals, each of us owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude." Following his retirement from the board, Price remained active in regional NSBE chapters.
Dr. Price received the 2004 Golden Torch Award for Lifetime Achievement in Academia from the NSBE. Golden Torches are awarded to individuals, academic institutions, and corporations who exemplify the NSBE's mission—as quoted on the NSBE Web site announcing the recipients—"to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community." Michele Lezama, the NSBE's executive director, was quoted on the Lamar NSBE Chapter web page: "As in past years, the Golden Torch Awards are NSBE's way of honoring and expressing its gratitude for the past and future accomplishments of its awardees, while also paving a path for young, aspiring black engineers to navigate toward their own personal and professional success."
In addition to his work with the Minority Engineering Program at Lamar, Price worked with the Golden Triangle-Texas Alliance for Minority Engineering (GT-TAME). In January of 2005, in honor of Dr. Price, GT-TAME announced the establishment of the Dr. Richard L. Price Endowment Scholarship for Engineering Students at Lamar University, to be administered by the Lamar University Foundation. The scholarship honored Doc Price's many years of service to Lamar students and others in the Golden Triangle—the Beaumont-Port Arthur area of Texas. The scholarship is earmarked for full-time Lamar undergraduates majoring in engineering, math, or science who have maintained a minimum overall-grade-point average of 2.75. The scholarship rotates among each of the departments on an annual basis. Janice Trammel, executive director of the Lamar Foundation, was quoted in a Lamar news release: "Scholarships are critical to the university's ability to attract and retain students. What better way to honor a faculty member who has devoted much of his time to recruit students to Lamar." The scholarship was endowed by Lamar parents, students, friends, faculty, and alumni. The Lamar Mathematician quoted Oscar Polk, a Lamar graduate: "Eastman Chemical Company would like to pay honor to Dr. Richard L. Price for the excellent job he has done over the years with the Minority Engineering Program at Lamar, his demonstrated commitment to the GT-TAME organization, along with his contributions as a National, Regional, and Chapter Advisor to the National Society of Black Engineers."
Between 2003 and 2005 Dr. Price was a member of the Lamar University long-range planning committee. As of 2005 he continued to serve as the Director of Minority Recruitment and Retention for Lamar's College of Engineering and as chairman of the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering.
At a Glance...
Born Richard L. Price in 1930(?). Education: Prairie View A&M University of Texas, BS, mathematics; University of Texas, Austin, MA, mathematics; Iowa State University; University of California-Los Angeles; Ohio State University, PhD, mathematics education; Yale Divinity School, MA, religion, 1972. Military Service: U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant, combat duty in Korea.
Career: Prairie View A&M University of Texas, 1956-(?); Lamar University, Department of Mathematics, associate professor, 1970–; University of Bridgeport, associate director of the engineering program, 1972(?); Lamar University, College of Engineering, director of minority recruitment and retention, 1979(?)–; Lamar University, long-range planning committee, 2003-05.
Memberships: Golden Triangle-Texas Alliance for Minority Engineering, chairman; National Society of Black Engineers, National Advisory Board, 1982-2002.
Awards: National Society of Black Engineers, Golden Torch Award for Lifetime Achievement in Academia, 2004; Golden Triangle-Texas Alliance for Minority Engineering, Lamar University Foundation, Dr. Richard L. Price Endowment Scholarship for Engineering Students, 2005.
Addresses: Office— Department of Mathematics, Lamar University, P.O. Box 10047, Beaumont, TX 77710.
Cardinal Cadence (Lamar University), March-May 2004, p. 28.
"The Dr. Richard L. Price, I Minority Scholarship in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science," Lamar Mathematician, www.188.8.131.52/u/Lamar?q=cache:h3KcD-0rioAJ:www.math.lamar.edu/newsletter/news_v3_n2.asp+%22lamar+mathematician%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8 (February 24, 2005).
"Josephine Smalls Miller Esq. National Society of Black Engineers' National Advisory Board," National Society of Black Engineers, The Multicultural Advantage, www.multiculturaladvantage.com/contentmgt/anmviewer.asp?a=350&z=80&isasp= (February 8, 2005).
"LU Engineering College Receives Dupont Grant," [email protected], www.lamar.edu/news/story.asp?ID=222 (February 8, 2005).
"National Society of Black Engineers Announces 2004 Golden Torch Awards Winners," National Society of Black Engineers, www.nsbe.org/publicrelations/gtawinners.php (February 24, 2005).
"National Society of Black Engineers 2004 Golden Torch Awards Winners" National Society of Black Engineers, www.nsbe.org/publicrelations/winner_bios.php (February 24, 2005).
"Price Scholarship to Help Lamar Engineering, Math and Science Students," Lamar University, www.lamar.edu/news/story.asp?ID=898 (February 24, 2005).
"The 2004 Golden Torch Award Recipient," Lamar University NSBE Chapter, www.hal.lamar.edu/~nsbe/advisor.html (February 24, 2004).
Nationality: American. Born: New York, 12 October 1949. Education: Cornell University, B.S. 1971; Columbia University, graduate study, 1972-74, M.F.A. 1976; Stanford University, further graduate study, 1973. Family: Married Judy Hudson; two daughters. Career: Lecturer in English as a second language, Hostos Community College, 1973; lecturer in urban affairs, New York University, 1973; lecturer in creative writing, State University of New York at Stony Brook, beginning 1974, New York University, 1974 and 1977, State University of New York at Binghamton, 1976, Hofstra University, 1978-79, and Yale University, 1980; screenwriter, actor, and producer. Lives in the Bronx, New York. Awards: Playboy Magazine Nonfiction Award, 1979. Agent: Brandt & Brandt, 1501 Broadway, New York, New York 10036, U.S.A.
The Wanderers. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1974.
Bloodbrothers. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1976.
Ladies' Man. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1978.
The Breaks. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1983.
Clockers. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1992.
Freedomland. New York, Broadway Books, 1998.
Streets of Gold, 1986; The Color of Money, Buena VistaPictures, 1986; Bad (for Michael Jackson music video), 1987; Rain Man (uncredited), United Artists, 1988; Sea of Love, Universal Pictures, 1989; New York Stories ("Life Lessons" segment), Buena Vista Pictures, 1989; Night and the City, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1992; 3 Screenplays, Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1993; Mad Dog and Glory, Universal Pictures, 1993; Kiss of Death, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1995; Clockers (with Spike Lee), Universal Pictures, 1995; Money Train (uncredited), Columbia Pictures, 1995; Ransom, Buena Vista Pictures, 1996; Shaft (and story), Paramount Pictures, 2000.
Introduction and interview, Men in the Cities, 1979-1982, by Robert Longo. New York, Abrams, 1986.*
Richard Price is a late-twentieth-century hybrid of Charles Dickens and Theodore Dreiser. His protagonists know both the destitution of David Copperfield and the craftiness of Sister Carrie. We may want to throw a little Upton Sinclair in the mix, too; Price's description of the risks and exploitation of the street drug dealer's life evoke comparisons to The Jungle 's slaughterhouse. Price's distinct trademark is his ear for street talk. He ably follows its changing lexicon, rhythms, and discourse communities in each of his novels, set in various New York City-area urban neighborhoods from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Price published The Wanderers when he was only twenty-four. This coming-of-age novel takes place in the multi-ethnic Bronx of the early-1960s. The Wanderers are a tight-knit group of Italian-American high school buddies, trying to survive parental abuse, teen pregnancy, and threats from rival gangs. They are an oxymoronic blend of tough and sensitive, which Price pulls off by avoiding sentimentality. At first Price's "protagonist" is collective. Richie, Joey, Eugene, Buddy, and Perry take on the threats of their ethically splintered high school together: the blacks, the all-Chinese gang, the mute Irish maniacs. The boys are gradually individualized by their personal plights; they become fathers, soldiers, desperados, on the road alone to success, failure, or the purgatory of the blue-collar working man's life.
Bloodbrothers ' singular protagonist, eighteen-year-old Stony De Coco, is trying to decide what to do with his life. He can join the family construction business, work as a hospital aid with children, or go to college. His choices reflect three conflicting impulses: stay with the violent, gritty, hatred-ridden world he knows best; turn soft, helpful, "feminine" at the hospital, or attempt class mobility through higher education. Again Price lays claim to this proletariat coming-of-age story through the tough talk and brutality of street and home. At times Price relies too heavily on these devices for authenticity and emotional impact; the novel lacks more understated moments of character development.
In Ladies' Man, Price pulls away from the mean streets, a move that allows him to turn to other, more subtle means of characterization. Thirty-year-old Kenny Becker has made it out of the Bronx to become a household sprays salesman in Manhattan. His live-in girlfriend has just left him, and he's compelled to recapture the ruffian existence of his gang-member youth. The arena, though, is now the vacuous 1970s swinging singles scene. This scenario is far more bourgeois than those in Price's first two novels, yet Becker's lonely, wandering bachelor life is no less vividly portrayed than the tumultuous high school halls of The Wanderers. Furthermore, the relative quietude of a salesman's bachelorhood allows Price to concentrate on character rather than chaos. Price proves himself here to be more than a one-trick pony.
The Breaks is another study of a working-class youth trying to be upwardly mobile. Peter Keller has just graduated from college, the first of his family to do so. After being wait-listed at law school, he moves back home to Yonkers and works meaningless jobs that do little but distance him from his goal of becoming an attorney. He ends up moving back to his college town to teach English, where he contemplates another future vision of himself: becoming an actor and stand-up comedian. Peter is even more confused about his chance at class mobility than Stony was in Bloodbrothers. Peter got "the break" of going to college, the chance to live out the classic dream of having a better life than one's parents did. Though college initially offers him the freedom to "be himself"—happy and unselfconscious—for the first time in his life, after graduation Peter finds he can't quite leave home. While living with his father in Yonkers, he suffers Oedipal longings for his stepmother. Once he leaves, he reinscribes this triangle onto an older colleague and his wife.
Price returns to the mean streets in Clockers, but character development is not sacrificed to the shock of the violence-ridden, illegal drug underworld setting. Strike, a black crack dealer, and Rocco, a white homicide cop, co-narrate the novel. Strike's brother, Victor, a young father working himself to the bone at two low-wage jobs, turns himself in for killing another neighborhood dealer. Rocco becomes obsessed with Strike and Victor, believing Victor is taking the rap for his brother's crime. Strike is indeed the bad boy, working for the neighborhood drug lord, luring a pre-teen boy into the racket with new sneakers, books, and adult male attention. But Strike is also a tortured soul with a stutter and a bleeding ulcer he treats by downing bottles of vanilla Yoo-Hoo. Rocco's late-career quest to nail the "right brother," we learn, is really about his yearning for moral order in the drug-and crime-torn world of his hometown of Dempsy, New Jersey. Strike, ironically, harbors the same desire, refusing to believe his do-good brother could kill. Clockers is a brilliant portrayal of the black inner city, Strike and Victor the two faces of a post-Civil Rights era "Native Son."
In Freedomland, the insular chaos of Dempsy becomes ground zero in a clash of racist mythologies. A young white woman tells the Dempsy police she was carjacked by a black man outside a housing project, her four-year-old son in the backseat. Racial tensions erupt between Dempsy and the adjacent, mostly white community, Gannon, and the media descends. The plot is based on the true story of Susan Smith, a white woman in South Carolina who drowned her two children, then told the world a black man had kidnapped them. Again Price uses blackness and whiteness as ironic mirrors for one another. The white mother, Brenda Martin, is exhausted and fragile and raising her son on her own, bearing the "single mother" moniker so many of her black neighbors are demonized for, yet she easily becomes a media victim-darling. The white cops of Gannon physically reinforce the black-white divide by sealing off and invading Dempsy. Meanwhile, black Dempsy detective Lorenzo Council ostensibly joins in this scouring of the mean streets, yet quietly explores Brenda Martin's own potential role in the crime. He is joined in his suspicions by Jesse Haus, a newspaper reporter from Dempsy's evening paper, who befriends Brenda as she investigates the woman's unstable world.
Lisa A. Phillips
The English Nonconformist minister and political philosopher Richard Price (1723-1791), who supported the American and French revolutions, devoted his life primarily to preaching.
Richard Price was born at Tynton, Glamorganshire, on Feb. 23, 1723. The son of a dissenting minister, he himself served as Unitarian minister to congregations in London, Stoke Newington, and Hackney for about 50 years.
Price's major work in moral philosophy is The Review of the Principal Questions in Morals (1758). The central issue with which this work is concerned is the question: why is an action right? Right, Price argues, is a real character of actions that is discerned by the understanding rather than by a moral sense. Right and wrong are simple ideas because they are not finally definable. Like Samuel Clarke, Price held that right and wrong are immutable. Price argues, in part, that both introspection and common sense indicate that rightness and wrongness are necessary truths known through the understanding by intuition.
Price's Four Dissertations (1767) included a vindication of the probability of miracles in opposition to David Hume's view of a "complete impossibility of miracles." Price and Hume, evidence from letters indicates, remained good friends in spite of their differences. Price and Joseph Priestley, also good friends, although philosophical opponents, published jointly A Free Discussion of the Doctrines of Materialism and Philosophical Necessity (1778). This work is a group of letters in which Priestley defends materialism and philosophical necessity, while Price attacks both of them.
An outstanding mathematician, Price was chosen a fellow of the Royal Society in 1765 for his essay resolving a difficult problem concerning probability. A few years later he applied his own solution to actuarial questions in Observations on Reversionary Payments (1771). In this work he laid the foundation for a modern system of life insurance and pensions.
Price's contribution to financial management was also notable. At the request of William Pitt the Younger, he formulated a program for dealing with the national debt in An Appeal to the Public on the Subject of the National Debt (1772). His ability in this area was so widely acknowledged by his American friends, including Benjamin Franklin, that Price was asked by the U.S. Congress to advise the new government on finance in 1778.
Price's most widely read works were those supporting the American and French revolutions. His Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America (1776), Additional Observations (1777), and The Love of Liberty (1789), the last sermon supporting the French Revolution, were all widely read in England, the United States, and France. Price died on April 19, 1791.
The most thorough analysis of Price's theories is Carl B. Cone, Torchbearer of Freedom: The Influence of Richard Price on Eighteenth Century Thought (1952). Also useful is Antonio S. Cua, Reason and Virtue: A Study in the Ethic of Richard Price (1966).
Laboucheix, Henri, Richard Price as moral philosopher and political theorist, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation at the Taylor Institution, 1982.
Price, Richard, The correspondence of Richard Price, Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press; Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1983-1994.
Thomas, David Oswald, Richard Price, 1723-1791, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1976. □
PRICE, Richard. American, b. 1949. Genres: Novels, Plays/Screenplays. Career: Lecturer in English as a second language, Hostos Community College, 1973; lecturer in urban affairs, New York University, 1973; lecturer in creative writing, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1974-, New York University, 1974 and 1977, State University of New York at Binghamton, 1976, Hofstra University, 1978-79, and Yale University, 1980; screenwriter, actor, and producer. Publications: NOVELS: The Wanderers, 1974; Bloodbrothers, 1976; Ladies' Man, 1978; The Breaks, 1983; Clockers, 1992; Freedomland, 1998; Samaritan, 2003. SCREENPLAYS: Streets of Gold, 1986; The Color of Money, 1986; Bad, 1987; Rain Man (uncredited), 1988; Sea of Love, 1989; New York Stories, 1989; Night and the City, 1992; 3 Screenplays, 1993; Mad Dog and Glory, 1993; Kiss of Death, 1995; (with S. Lee) Clockers, 1995; Money Train (uncredited), 1995; Ransom, 1996; Shaft (and story), 2000. Address: c/o Brandt & Brandt, 1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, U.S.A.