Few Blacks on the List of the World’s Top Public Intellectuals

Four years ago Prospect magazine in the United Kingdom nominated 100 of the world’s top public intellectuals. Readers and visitors to the magazine’s Web site were asked to vote for whom they believed were the top five public intellectuals in the world.

Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT, received double the number of votes as his nearest competitor. In these rankings Chinua Achebe, the African writer and professor at Bard College, was the highest-ranking black public intellectual. He was ranked the 38th position. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Ethiopian-born advocate for women’s rights, was ranked 46th. Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr. came in 57th place. Wole Soyinka and Ali Mazrui of Binghamton University also made the Top 100 list.

This year the magazine is holding a second vote. Henry Louis Gates Jr. did not make the list of nominees. Wole Soyinka, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Princeton University’s K. Anthony Appiah were the sole black nominees on the list of the world’s top public intellectuals. The rankings will be announced on June 23.