Nearly twenty years ago, I was interviewed by two academic institutions, the City University of New York and Columbia University, to direct their African American Studies programs. The key faculty member in charge of recruiting me to City University was a cultural anthropologist called Leith Mullings. I knew about and respected her writings, as well as her progressive politics. In the end, I decided to accept the offer from Columbia University, where I went on to create the Institute for Research in African American Studies and later, in 1999, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society. My preliminary contacts with Mullings, however, eventually evolved into an intimate, intellectual, and personal partnership. Soon after I became the director of Columbia’s Institute, Mullings moved to Paris for a year to accept a distinguished visiting professorship at the École des Haute Études en Sciences Sociales. I found myself regularly commuting to Paris where, among other things, Mullings and I walked for hours around the Fifth Arrondissement and talked intensely about the history of black thought.