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New Books in African American Studies

Author: Marshall Poe

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Interviews with Scholars of African America about their New Books
480 Episodes
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Inspired by Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi has written her own beautiful choreo drama titled For Black Trans Girls Who Gotta Cuss A Mother F*cker Out When Snatching An Edge Ain’t Enough. Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi describes For Black Trans Girls as “a celebration of Trans Women, Goddesshood, a lament for our fallen, a sword for our living and a challenge to white supremacy, structural oppression and any who would dare try to erase us from existence." In this interview Lady Dane shows that she really is a renaissance woman, discusses the connection between racism and transphobia, challenges the idea that science is better religion especially for trans folks of color, and promotes the importance of accountability.You can purchase a copy of For Black Trans Girls here. $2 from each book sold goes to a trans and/or gender non-conforming person of color’s survival fund.Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi is an African, Cuban, Indigenous, American Trans performance artist, author, and playwright among many different titles. Adrian King (pronouns: they/them/theirs) is a recently graduate of Brandies University’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies MA program and is an incoming graduate student in University of Michigan’s American Culture PhD program.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode of the American Society for Legal History’s podcast Talking Legal History Siobhan talks with Paul Finkelman, President of Gratz College, about his book Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court(Harvard University Press, 2018). Finkelman is a specialist on the history of slavery and the law. He is also the author of more than 200 scholarly articles and the author or editor of more than fifty books on a broad range of topics including American Jewish history, American legal history, constitutional law, and legal issues surrounding baseball.The three most important Supreme Court Justices before the Civil War―Chief Justices John Marshall and Roger B. Taney and Associate Justice Joseph Story―upheld the institution of slavery in ruling after ruling. These opinions cast a shadow over the Court and the legacies of these men, but historians have rarely delved deeply into the personal and political ideas and motivations they held. In Supreme Injustice, the distinguished legal historian Paul Finkelman establishes an authoritative account of each justice’s proslavery position, the reasoning behind his opposition to black freedom, and the incentives created by circumstances in his private life.Finkelman uses census data and other sources to reveal that Justice Marshall aggressively bought and sold slaves throughout his lifetime―a fact that biographers have ignored. Justice Story never owned slaves and condemned slavery while riding circuit, and yet on the high court he remained silent on slave trade cases and ruled against blacks who sued for freedom. Although Justice Taney freed many of his own slaves, he zealously and consistently opposed black freedom, arguing in Dred Scott that free blacks had no Constitutional rights and that slave owners could move slaves into the Western territories. Finkelman situates this infamous holding within a solid record of support for slavery and hostility to free blacks.Supreme Injustice boldly documents the entanglements that alienated three major justices from America’s founding ideals and embedded racism ever deeper in American civic life.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Reflecting on his fifty-year effort to steer the Grand Old Party toward black voters, Memphis power broker George W. Lee declared, "Somebody had to stay in the Republican Party and fight." As Joshua D. Farrington, Instructor in African & African-American Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, recounts in Black Republicans and the Transformation of the GOP (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), Lee was one of many black Republican leaders who remained loyal after the New Deal inspired black voters to switch their allegiance from the "party of Lincoln" to the Democrats. Ideologically and demographically diverse, the ranks of twentieth-century black Republicans included Southern patronage dispensers like Lee and Robert Church, Northern critics of corrupt Democratic urban machines like Jackie Robinson and Archibald Carey, civil rights agitators like Grant Reynolds and T. R. M. Howard, elected politicians like U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke and Kentucky state legislator Charles W. Anderson, black nationalists like Floyd McKissick and Nathan Wright, and scores of grassroots organizers from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Black Republicans believed that a two-party system in which both parties were forced to compete for the African American vote was the best way to obtain stronger civil rights legislation. Though they were often pushed to the sidelines by their party's white leadership, their continuous and vocal inner-party dissent helped moderate the GOP's message and platform through the 1970s. And though often excluded from traditional narratives of U.S. politics, black Republicans left an indelible mark on the history of their party, the civil rights movement, and twentieth-century political development. Farrington marshals an impressive amount of archival material at the national, state, and municipal levels in the South, Midwest, and West, as well as in the better-known Northeast, to open up new avenues in African American political history.Ryan Tripp is part-time and full-time adjunct history faculty for Los Medanos Community College as well as the College of Online and Continuing Education at Southern New Hampshire University.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Though women’s roles in the black freedom struggle remain under-acknowledged, scholars continue to make their importance clear. In her new book, Jim Crow Capital: Women and Black Freedom Struggles in Washington, DC, 1920-1945 (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), Mary-Elizabeth Murphy (Associate Professor of History at Eastern Michigan University) examines black women’s activism in Washington D.C. during the interwar period. The nation’s capital has long been an important location for influencing national politics. Black women recognized this fact and shaped their activism accordingly. Consequently, the city is a particularly rich site in which to study women’s political efforts and to see how these activists tackled discrimination on both the local and national levels. Murphy's book shows the interwar years were an important time for fighting discrimination in politics, government, employment, and by law enforcement.In this episode of the podcast, Murphy discusses this rich history. She discusses the importance of Washington D.C. as a site for black women’s activism, explains successes and failures of the period, and the precedents it set. The conversation highlights the book's themes of class, gender, and police violence. She also discusses some of the lessons this history provides for today’s politics. Finally, Murphy explains her source base and the challenges and rewards of her time in the archives.Christine Lamberson is an Associate Professor of History at Angelo State University. Her research and teaching focuses on 20th century U.S. political and cultural history. She’s currently working on a book manuscript about the role of violence in shaping U.S. political culture in the 1960s and 1970s. She can be reached at clamberson@angelo.edu.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan is the author of Vagrants and Vagabonds: Poverty and Mobility in the Early American Republic, published by New York University Press in 2019. Vagrants and Vagabonds focuses on the control over poor migrants’ mobility and how their movement shaped ideas of class, race, and status in the United States. Examining how local and state government’s criminalized vagrancy, O’Brassill-Kulfan illustrates that the vagrant, whether real of a figment of people’s imaginations, were crucial to the development of the state and ideas about community.Dr. O’Brassill-Kulfan is an instructor of public history at Rutgers University. She specializes in early American social and legal history, as well as public history.Derek Litvak is a Ph.D. student in the department of history at the University of Maryland.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
When hate groups descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, triggering an eruption of racist violence, the tragic conflict reverberated throughout the world. It also had a profound effect on the University of Virginia’s expansive community, many of whose members are involved in teaching issues of racism, public art, free speech, and social ethics. In the wake of this momentous incident, scholars, educators, and researchers have come together in this important new volume to thoughtfully reflect on the historic events of August 11 and 12, 2017.How should we respond to the moral and ethical challenges of our times? What are our individual and collective responsibilities in advancing the principles of democracy and justice? Charlottesville 2017: The Legacy of Race and Inequity (University of Virginia Press, 2018) brings together the work of these UVA faculty members catalyzed by the events of the summer to examine their community’s history more deeply and more broadly. Their essays―ranging from John Mason on the local legacy of the Lost Cause to Leslie Kendrick on free speech to Rachel Wahl on the paradoxes of activism―examine truth telling, engaged listening, and ethical responses, and aim to inspire individual reflection, as well as to provoke considered and responsible dialogue. This prescient new collection is a conversation that understands and owns America’s past and―crucially―shows that our past is very much part of our present. Today we speak with one of the editors, Claudrena N. Harold.Adam McNeil is a PhD Student in History at Rutgers University-New BrunswickLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Lenora Warren about her book, Fire on the Water: Sailors, Slaves, and Insurrection in Early American Literature, 1789-1886, published by Rutgers University Press in 2019. Fire on the Water looks at the history of abolition and slave violence by looking at the representation of shipboard mutiny and insurrection in late 18th and early 19th century literature. By examining the intersection of both real and fictional stories, Warren explains how mutiny and insurrection were critical to the development of the abolitionist movement, even as the connection between slave violence and the abolitionist movement was a complex and fraught relationship.Warren is a lecturer in the English department at Ithaca College. She specializes in Early African American and American literature, and maritime 18th and 19th century British and American literature.Derek Litvak is a Ph.D. student in the department of history at the University of Maryland.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
With the Ta-Nehisi Coates–authored Black Panther comic book series (2016),  recent films Django Unchained (2012), The Birth of a Nation (2016), Nate Parker’s cinematic imagining of the Nat Turner rebellion, and screen adaptations of Marvel’s Luke Cage (2016) and Black Panther (2018), violent black redeemers have rarely been so present in mainstream Western culture. Grégory Pierrot argues, however, that the black avenger has always been with us: the trope has fired the news and imaginations of the United States and the larger Atlantic World for three centuries.The black avenger channeled fresh anxieties about slave uprisings and racial belonging occasioned by European colonization in the Americas. Even as he is portrayed as a heathen and a barbarian, his values―honor, loyalty, love―reflect his ties to the West. Yet being racially different, he cannot belong, and his qualities in turn make him an anomaly among black people. The black avenger is thus a liminal figure defining racial borders. Where his body lies, lies the color line. Regularly throughout the modern era and to this day, variations on the trope have contributed to defining race in the Atlantic World and thwarting the constitution of a black polity.Grégory Pierrot's Black Avenger in Atlantic Culture (University of Georgia Press, 2019) studies this cultural history, examining a multicultural and cross-historical network of print material including fiction, drama, poetry, news, and historical writing as well as visual culture. It tracks the black avenger trope from its inception in the seventeenth century to the U.S. occupation of Haiti in 1915. Pierrot argues that this Western archetype plays an essential role in helping exclusive, hostile understandings of racial belonging become normalized in the collective consciousness of Atlantic nations. His study follows important articulations of the figure and how it has shifted based on historical and cultural contexts.Adam McNeil is a PhD Student in History at Rutgers University-New BrunswickLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The 2018 election of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil has brought the issues of police violence, racial discrimination, and misogyny to the fore. Jaime Alves’s book the Anti-Black City: Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) shows that, from the perspective of Black Brazilians, these forces have deep roots in the nation’s history. Alves makes a powerful contribution to urban anthropology, describing the spatial contours of “Brazilian Apartheid” in Sao Paulo, the role of police violence in the constitution of the city’s racial-spatial order, and the ways that national sovereignty is exercised on individual bodies. Richly ethnographic, The Anti-Black City explores these themes through an account of the lives and activism of black residents of Sao Paulo’s favelas. In this episode, Jaime Alves talks with Jacob Doherty about how his background shaped the research leading to the book, about the entanglement of neoliberal moral government through community and the deployment of police terror, and about his conceptual engagements with Afro-pessimist philosophy.Jaime Alves is assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York and a research affiliate at the Centro de Estudios Afrodiasporicos at Universidad Icesi, Colombia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin. His work has appeared in the Journal of Black Studies, Antipode, Journal of Latin American Studies, Identities, and Critical Sociology.Jacob Doherty is a research associate in urban mobility at the Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford, and, most recently, the co-editor Labor Laid Waste, a special issue of International Labor and Working Class History.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Ryan A. Quintana is the author of Making a Slave State: Political Development in Early South Carolina, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2018. Making a Slave State examined how enslaved African Americans built the state of South Carolina, in the literal sense of the word. From roads to canals, from public buildings to military fortifications, Quintana examines not only how enslaved people were central to producing the state’s infrastructure and early governing practices, but also how they claimed these same spaces for themselves.Dr. Quintana is associate professor of history at Wellesley College. He specializes in race, slavery, space, and the state in the late colonial and early national eras.Derek Litvak is a Ph.D. student in the department of history at the University of Maryland.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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