Past and Present: Is America Headed for a Scopes Moment over Critical Race Theory?

A century ago a similar right-wing outrage campaign was launched against the teaching of evolution in public schools. In a recent debate over a law to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory, Tennessee legislator Justin Lafferty (R) explained to his colleagues that the 3/5th Compromise of 1787, used to determine a state’s representation in[…]

The History of Systemic Racism That Opponents of Critical Race Theory Prefer to Hide

The foundation of America, and of systemic racism, happened at the same time and from the same consciously created laws. Critical Race Theory (CRT) has become a lightning rod for conservative ire at any discussion of racism, anti-racism, or the non-white history of America. Across the country, bills in Republican-controlled legislatures have attempted to prevent[…]

Critical Race Theory: What It Is and What It Isn’t

A scholar of race and racism explains what critical race theory is – and how many people get it wrong. Introduction U.S. Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana sent a letter to fellow Republicans on June 24, 2021, stating: “As Republicans, we reject the racial essentialism that critical race theory teaches … that our institutions are racist and[…]

Featured Scholar: Kimberlé W. Crenshaw and Critical Race Theory

Crenshaw is known for her work on intersectionality – how overlapping or intersecting social identities relate to systems and structures of oppression. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Introduction Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw is Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University. This introduction is taken from her profile page at the institution. Crenshaw[…]

Critical Race Theory: History, Themes, and Debate

The basic tenets of CRT include that racism and disparate racial outcomes are the result of complex, changing and often subtle social and institutional dynamics. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Introduction Critical race theory (CRT) is a body of legal scholarship and an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States that seeks to[…]

Happy Talk: Listen to the Room Where Ella Fitzgerald Sang

Inside the Sunset Boulevard building that busted racial barriers. As you listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing “Take the ‘A’ Train,” try to also listen around it and through it. Listen to the song as it begins—Lou Levy’s piano warming up through the applause—and listen to the final seconds after it finishes, the band in brief[…]

Sipping the Feels: Racial Justice, Mindfulness, Transformation, and Healing

Mindfulness practice can bring about transformation on different levels. Interview with Rhonda V. Magee, MA, JDProfessor of LawUniversity of Minnesota What Is Systemic Racism? The crisis playing out through the media is only one symptom of a larger system of inequity, which permeates our society and which most white people are not able to see.[…]

Photographing the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921

The eruption of white mob violence in downtown Tulsa on May 31, 1921, interrupted Greenwood’s historic ascendancy. By Dr. Karlos K. HillAssociate Professor of HistoryChair, Clara Luper Department of African and African-American StudiesUniversity of Oklahoma This article, Photographing the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.[…]

Jab over Java: Viola Fletcher and Hughes Van Ellis – 1921 Tulsa Survivors

NBC Sunday TODAY Marking the 100th anniversary of one of the worst outbreaks of racist violence in American history, Viola Fletcher, 107, and Hughes Van Ellis, 100, open up to NBC’s Morgan Radford for Sunday TODAY about surviving the Tulsa Race Massacre. Viola was just seven years old when a white mob attacked her home.[…]

Early Reconstruction and the Memphis Race Massacre of 1866

The white planters wanted to drive freedmen out of Memphis and back to plantations, to support cotton cultivation with their labor. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Introduction The Memphis massacre of 1866[1] was a series of violent events that occurred from May 1 to 3, 1866 in Memphis, Tennessee. The racial violence was ignited by political, social, and[…]

Francis Galton and the Racist Pseudoscience of Eugenics in the 19th Century

Smart people can have really bad ideas – like selectively breeding human beings to allegedly “improve” the species. Introduction A popular pseudoscience was leaving its mark on American culture a century ago in everything from massive reductions in quotas for immigration to the U.S., to thousands of “fitter family” contests at county fairs, to a[…]

Miscegenation: The Birth, and Life, of a Word

The contents of this booklet, released in 1864, quickly became a focal point of campaign oratory. By Ralph KeyesAuthor, Speaker, and Teacher During the presidential campaign of 1864, a seventy-two-page booklet appeared on the streets of Manhattan. This publication was titled Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man[…]

1968 as Living History in the Black Freedom Struggle

Unresolved race matters from the past intersect with twenty-first century activism to counter the continued devaluation of black lives. Abstract New questions about the legacies of 1968 and the 1960s in general are presenting themselves to us, as scholars and as citizens, ever more urgently. This is particularly true of race and racial struggle, as[…]

The History and Legacy of ‘Black Wall Street’

Before 1921, most of Tulsa’s 10,000 African American residents lived in the vibrant district with flourishing Black-owned businesses. By Dora Mekouar Until recently, many Americans had never heard of the Greenwood District of the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, one of the largest, most prosperous Black communities in the United States that was destroyed in 1921 during what the Oklahoma[…]

The Story of Caesar, an Enslaved Chef and Chocolatier in Colonial Virginia

In a bittersweet history, the story of enslaved chocolatier Caesar shows the oppression that lay behind the elite’s culinary treat. Introduction The holidays are approaching, and among the many treats of the season are chocolate and hot cocoa. While these traditions provide a hefty dose of sugar, there’s a bittersweet side to chocolate’s history, too.[…]

A Successful White Supremacist Coup in 1898 Amplified by Lies

A successful violent coup perpetrated and fueled by white supremacist ideology spread happened in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898. Introduction While experts debate whether the U.S. Capitol siege was an attempted coup, there is no debate that what happened in 1898 in Wilmington, North Carolina, was a coup – and its consequences were tragic. These[…]

The Revolutionary Summer of 1862: How Congress Abolished Slavery

Secession and the Civil War were about slavery and race. Introduction In his second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln recalled, “All knew that” the “peculiar and powerful interest” in slaves “was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even[…]

John Brown’s “Tragic Prelude” to the U.S. Civil War

John Brown first became a nationally known figure in 1856 through his actions in the Kansas Territory, three years before Harper’s Ferry. Who Was John Brown? “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.” John Brown, shortly before his execution, 1859[…]

Citizens’ Councils, Conservatism, and White Supremacy in Louisiana, 1964-1972

White supremacist resistance against the civil rights movement transformed its rhetoric while seeking to align with the conservatism. This article examines the development of Massive Resistance, in particular Citizens’ Councils, in Louisiana after the council movement in the South had passed its zenith when being unable to prevent the passage of federal civil rights and[…]

The Whistles of George Wallace in the 1968 Presidential Campaign

Wallace appeared on the national scene in the early sixties to give an unadulterated voice to feelings of anger and fear felt by whites. Abstract Gender and emotions are important factors in the rise of modern U.S. conservatism. This article examines the 1968 presidential election as a pivotal moment in the development of the New[…]

Jane and Cicely: Massachusetts Slaves Who Died of an Epidemic in 1714

The lives, labor, and sacrifices of women and girls of color have been overlooked for centuries. Introduction What I believe to be the oldest surviving gravestone for a Black person in the Americas memorializes an enslaved teenager named Cicely. Cicely’s body is interred across from Harvard’s Johnston Gate in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She died in 1714 during a[…]

Reconstruction and Insurrection in 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina

The violent overthrow of a duly elected government by a group of white supremacists. Introduction The Wilmington insurrection of 1898, also known as the Wilmington massacre of 1898 or the Wilmington coup of 1898, occurred in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Thursday, November 10, 1898. It is considered a turning point in post-Reconstruction North Carolina politics.[…]

The Crescent City ‘White League’ and Insurrection in 1874 New Orleans

The Battle of Liberty Place was an insurrection by the Crescent City White League against the Reconstruction Era state government. Introduction The Battle of Liberty Place, or Battle of Canal Street, was an attempted insurrection and coup d’etat by the Crescent City White League against the Reconstruction Era Louisiana Republican state government on September 14,[…]

The Artifacts of White Supremacy: A History of the Ku Klux Klan

Robes, fiery crosses, and even the American flag were all material objects employed by the 1920s Klan to convey their “gospel”. Introduction Discussions about racism—and white supremacy in particular—tend to treat it as a matter of belief, while there’s considerably less talk of how racialized hate becomes tangible and real. And yet, we know the Ku[…]

Charles Sumner: The Fight for Equal Naturalization Rights in 1870

Sumner added fire to an already explosive debate with his amendment to do away with the “whites only” clause of the naturalization law. On July 4, 1870 – 150 years ago this week – Republican Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts urged the U.S. Senate to take a radical step: to strike out the word “white”[…]

History, the KKK, and Christianity

Nationalism (or “100% Americanism”), Protestant Christianity, and white supremacy became inextricably linked. Randall J. Stephens responds to Kelly J. Baker’s essay, “The Artifacts of White Supremacy,” which is featured in the June issue of the Forum. Baker’s essay considers how discussions about racism—and white supremacy in particular—tend to treat it as a matter of belief,[…]

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[…]