Remarkable Radical: Thaddeus Stevens, 1859-1868

Thaddeus Stevens was a fearsome reformer, who never backed down from a fight. In 1813, a young Thaddeus Stevens was attending a small college in Vermont. This was well before the time when good fences made good neighbors. Free-roaming cows often strayed onto campus. Manure piled up. Odors lingered. Resentment among students festered. One spring[…]

How Black Pastors Resisted Jim Crow and White Pastors Incited Violence

Religion was no barrier for Southern lynch mobs intent on terror. White pastors joined the KKK, incited racial violence and took part in lynchings. Introduction White lynch mobs in America murdered at least 4,467 people between 1883 and 1941, hanging, burning, dismembering, garroting and blowtorching their victims. Their violence was widespread but not indiscriminate: About[…]

How a Heritage of Black Preaching Shaped MLK’s Voice in Calling for Justice

A long heritage of black preachers who played an important role for enslaved people shaped Martin Luther King Jr.’s moral and ethical vision. Introduction The name Martin Luther King Jr. is iconic in the United States. President Barack Obama mentioned King in both his Democratic National Convention nomination acceptance and victory speeches in 2008, when[…]

Possible Mass Graves Identified from 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

All of the victims whose remains the groups have been searching for are homicide victims of the white mob that day. For decades, historians poring over photographs, written records and oral interviews have suspected where victims may have been buried after the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. And on Monday night, researchers announced there is[…]

Congress and the Remaking of the South, 1865-1866

Andrew Johnson lacked Lincoln’s political skills and instead exhibited a stubbornness and confrontational approach. Introduction President Johnson and Congress’s views on Reconstruction grew even further apart as Johnson’s presidency progressed. Congress repeatedly pushed for greater rights for freed people and a far more thorough reconstruction of the South, while Johnson pushed for leniency and a[…]

St. Augustine’s Slave Market: A Visual History

Placing special emphasis on visual culture in the forms of photographs and postcards, Goldstein unpacks the complicated history of St. Augustine’s Slave Market. Introduction At the center of the historic quarter in St. Augustine, Florida, stands the “old slave market,” an open-air pavilion where enslaved Africans were bought and sold (Figures 1–3). Since its construction[…]

Listening to the Past: An African-American Lullaby

Both during slavery and after, the power structures of American society confined many black women to the role of caretakers of white families. My research tries to capture the sounds of the past before the advent of recorded music. I’m curious about ideas that were spoken and sung and shouted and strummed, focusing particularly on[…]

Rights, Resistance, and Racism: The Story of the Mangrove Nine

Examining what prompted the backlash of black British people against the police. By Rowena Hillel and Vicky Iglikowski The trial of the nine arguably represents a high point of the Black Panther movement in the UK, showing the power of black activism and the institutionalised police prejudice. But what prompted the backlash of black British[…]

Remember the Red Summer 100 Years Later

Typical narratives about 1919’s anti-black collective violence, especially in school textbooks, often conclude abruptly. This summer marks the hundredth anniversary of 1919’s Red Summer, when, from May to November, the nation experienced ten major “race riots” that took the lives of more than 350 people, almost all black. How should the challenging but essential task[…]

The Civilian Conservation Corps, Racial Segregation, and the Building of the Angeles National Forest

Obscured in the Angeles’ history is the role that all-African-American CCC camps played in the development of forest infrastructure. By Daniel Medina The Angeles National Forest, granting Los Angeles County 70% of its open space, is today considered the most accessible and popular “playground” in Southern California. Its prominent recreational legacy is rooted in the[…]

A Brief Overview of Post-Civil War Segregation

In the South, segregation reproduced the racial inequality found under slavery. By Angelina Grigoryeva and Martin Ruef Segregation took various forms across the postbellum United States, with important regional differences between the Northeast and South.  In the American Northeast, segregation largely assumed the form of racialized African-American districts, similar to those today.  By contrast, the[…]

Slavery and the Origins of the Lost Cause Myth

States’ rights and slavery, while theoretically distinct, were in praxis intertwined. Here’s what a Jeffersonian analysis of Jubal Early’s lost-cause apologia can teach us. The two most significant issues that led to war between the North and South were, most scholars acknowledge, slavery and states’ rights. Northern states had fully abolished slavery by 1804, when[…]

Elegy and Effigy: The Struggle for Integration

The similarities between the effigies of James Meredith and the thousands of black bodies hanged and burned by southern lynch mobs over the years were intentional. An effigy dangled outside the second-story window of Vardaman Hall, a men’s dormitory on the University of Mississippi campus. Its head crooked from the rope tied around its neck,[…]

The Voices of Civil Rights

Photographs documenting pivotal events in the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Overview This exhibition draws from the individual accounts and oral histories collected by the Voices of Civil Rights project, a collaborative effort of AARP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and the Library of Congress. The exhibition celebrates the donation[…]

James Byrd, Jr., John William King, and the History of American Lynching

We need a historical understanding of how lynching discourse continues to shape America’s enduring “dialogue on race.” In February, 1999, John William King – who was executed in Huntsville, Texas on April 24, 2019 –became the first white man in modern Texas history to be sentenced to death for killing a black person.  How that black person, James Byrd,[…]

The 19th Century Labor Movement That Brought Black and White Arkansans Together

In 1888, small farmers, sharecroppers, and industrial workers organized to fight inequality. Today, when Americans think about the tradition of political protest to protect democracy, they often recall the mid-20th century, when millions of Americans participated in the civil rights movement and protests against the Vietnam War. But the roots of American grassroots political activism[…]

Native Americans and the Origin of Abraham Lincoln’s Views on Race

Native Americans influenced the formation of Abraham Lincoln’s racial ideology. December of 1862 was a grisly month of a grisly year. Abraham Lincoln received dire reports from the horrifying battle at Fredricksburg, Virginia, and he had an eye on the scene unfolding on the windswept prairie of Mankato, Minnesota. In that far-flung corner of the[…]

Breaking the NFL Quarterback Color Barrier in 1969

How James Harris changed the NFL’s marquee role. An hour or two before kickoff on the night of August 15, 1969, a rookie quarterback named James Harris noticed a well-dressed man about a foot shorter than him approaching through the tunnel beneath Detroit’s Tiger Stadium. His 5-foot-4 height notwithstanding, the man was a former NFL[…]

Colonial Exhibitions, ‘Völkerschauen’ and the Display of the ‘Other’

The term ‘Völkerschau’ became common in 19th-century Europe and denoted the exhibition of members of particular ethnic groups, above all for commercial reasons. By Dr. Anne DreesbachPublisher and Historian Abstract The term ‘Völkerschau’ became common in the 19th century and denoted the exhibition of members of particular ethnic groups, above all for commercial reasons. The[…]

A Chilling Proposal in the 1920s for an Orphanage Scientific Study

The history of race science is a history of racist science, as epitomized by this proposed but never carried-out experiment from the early 20th century. In the late 1920s, scientists hatched an outrageous plan to settle a question at the heart of American racial thought: were differences between racial groups driven by environment or by[…]