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Special Programs

Lecture Series

These lectures are free and open to members of The Commonwealth Society.

Discussion with Larry I. Palmer: Thursday, July 15 at 11am

Please join us on July 15, 2020 at 11 AM via ZOOM for a discussion of a recently published coming of age memoir, Scholarship Boy: Meditations on Family and Race by its author, Professor Larry I. Palmer.


In 1958, fourteen-year-old Larry Palmer left his parents and nine siblings at home in St. Louis and boarded a train to attend Phillips Exeter Academy. In Scholarship Boy Palmer reflects on his experiences as a young black boy growing up far from home, learning to fit into a white world without becoming estranged from his closely-knit family. The ninth of ten children, he illustrates the ways his sibling relationships shaped him as he was also being molded by his elite education. Palmer’s journey from being the “next-to-the-baby” of his family into adulthood reveals the personal and often hidden costs of cultural migration.


Larry I. Palmer grew up in St. Louis in the 1940s and ’50s, the ninth of ten children. As a high school freshman, he moved to New Hampshire to attend the boarding school Phillips Exeter Academy. He holds degrees from Harvard University and Yale Law School, and he spent most of his career at Cornell University as a law professor and university administrator. Before he retired he held a joint appointment in VCU’s Department of Health Administration and William and Mary’s Law School from 2008-2011. His scholarly writing focused on health policy and bioethics, including two books and a collaboration that produced an educational video on The Tuskegee Study of Syphilis in Negro Men. His essays have appeared in New England Review and VCU’s Blackbird and have been cited as notable essays in Best American Essays.

Palmer lives in Richmond, Virginia. Scholarship Boy is his first book for a general audience.

In preparing for Professor Palmer’s reading and discussion, the excerpt from the book that appeared in VCU’s Blackbird“Where Are You From?” may generate some questions you would like for him to address on July 15. You can send those questions to me in advance of the ZOOM event. Professor Palmer will seek to address those advance questions in his selection of his readings and his other comments.
If you are interested in purchasing and reading the book before the discussion, you can purchase Scholarship Boy online through AmazonBarnes & NobleTarget, or buy directly from the publisher, Paul Dry Books for a 20% discount offer. The book is also available through independent booksellers, including Bookpeople and Fountain Bookstore in Richmond.
Scholarship Boy is also available as an e-book through:

– Amazon
– Apple iTunes Bookstore
– Barnes & Noble
– Google Play
– Bookshop

Special Events

Three Frank Lloyd Wright Houses in 28 Hours:
Friday, May 15 – Saturday, May 16– Cancelled

Beginning with the Pope-Leighey House, a Wright Usonian design in Fairfax County, on the first day, we will continue after a picnic lunch by motor coach to the Laurel Highlands of western Pennsylvania. On day two we will visit Kentuck Knob, a handsome Wright-designed private residence (which includes a stunning outdoor display of modern and contemporary sculpture). After lunch at Kentuck Knob, we will travel a short distance to Fallingwater, the 1940 residential masterwork of our nation’s most important architect.

Edwin Slipek, instructor
$450 Includes bus transportation (large bus with restroom), hotel, architectural lectures with Eddie, and admission to sites. Does not include meals. 20 people needed for trip. Bus can hold 44 people.