From Grandfather to Grandson, the Lessons of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

More Americans are learning about the 1921 massacre in Tulsa. It is part of this author’s family history. Introduction My family sat down to watch the first episode of HBO’s “Watchmen” last October. Stephen Williams, the director, included quick cuts of gunshots, explosions, citizens fleeing roaming mobs, and even a plane dropping bombs. We’ve come[…]

The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921

It has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.” Introduction The Tulsa race massacre (also called the Tulsa race riot, the Greenwood Massacre, or the Black Wall Street Massacre) took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the[…]

The Plague of Justinian in the Sixth-Century Roman Empire

The plague’s social and cultural impact has been compared to that of the Black Death that devastated Eurasia in the fourteenth century. Introduction The Plague of Justinian or Justinianic Plague (541–549 AD) was the beginning of the first plague pandemic, the first Old World pandemic of plague, the contagious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia[…]

The Antonine Plague: Pandemic in the Second-Century Roman Empire

The disease killed as much as one third of the population in some areas and devastated the Roman army. Introduction The Antonine Plague of 165 to 180 AD, also known as the Plague of Galen (after Galen, the physician who described it), was an ancient pandemic brought to the Roman Empire by troops who were[…]

The Roman Empire in the First Century: Imperial Intrigue and Chaos

The Roman Empire repeatedly faced an uncertain future. Introduction Two thousand years ago, at the dawn of the first century, the world was ruled by Rome.  The Roman Empire struggled with problems which are surprisingly familiar: violent coups, assassination, overarching ambition, civil war, clashes between the classes as well as the sexes and questions of[…]

‘Beware the Ides of March’: When a Ruler Gets Drunk on Power

In 44 BC, at the celebration of the Lupercalia, Julius Caesar, seated in a gilded chair at the front of the Rostra, publicly refused the diadem of kingship presented to him by Antony. He already exercised the power of dictator, and many regarded the gesture as nothing more than pretense. Indeed, for Appian, “the difference[…]