Election update, 2014 — or should that be 1914?

A century ago in the Jim Crow South, conservatives were using the same charges of fraud to disenfranchise black voters

Election time, folks, and voter suppression is all the rage. As you no doubt recall, the last election cycle witnessed a host of efforts to restrict access to the ballot box. Limiting polling hours, restricting the use of absentee ballots, and forbidding voting on the same day one is registered – Republicans across the nation championed all these measures.

By far the most insidious of these has been the drive to require particular forms of identification at the polling place. Presently, thirty-four states require voters to produce state-issued photo identification when voting. Champions of voter ID laws claim they are necessary to reduce fraudulent voting. “True the Vote,” a Houston-based group dedicated to intimidating monitoring voters at polling places, was one of the earliest and most public manifestations of this effort, routinely leveling bogus charges of voter fraud across the country.[Continue Reading...]

12 Years, One Slave

While I was reading Patrick Rael’s rousing post on the controversy surrounding Edward Baptist’s work, a parenthetical statement led my brain into its own parentheses, on a tangent concerning the historiography of American slavery. Rael notes some of the prominent schools of that historiography, led by Stanley Elkins, Euguene Genovese, and Herbert Gutman. But I found myself stuck on “the delta of post-revisions that followed.” Where does this historiography stand today? In what direction has the river turned?

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Cemeteries as Communities

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Excited to touch, smell, and most of all see the Motherland, in 2005 I participated in an educational excursion to Egypt.  It was amazing!  We (my life mate and about a dozen other graduate students from Texas Woman’s and North Texas Universities) … [Continue reading]

On “Beauty” not Beauty

Pageants, Parlors, & Pretty Women

(The title is an homage to Zadie Smith’s masterful novel On Beauty.) A month ago I was holding a plastic beer stein and standing around Beale Street with fellow bloggers Brandon Byrd and Christopher Cameron after the day’s ASALH sessions. We … [Continue reading]

‘Yes means Yes’ and the Problem of Consent in the Law

Just about a month ago, California became first state in the country to adopt an “affirmative consent” policy for its publicly funded universities and colleges. This bill, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 28th, requires that “in … [Continue reading]

Beyond Slavery and the Civil Rights Movement: Freedom Schools and Transformative Education


As a former 8th grade English teacher in Atlanta, I was literally dumfounded to find that my students (mind you – who were in middle school) thought Martin Luther King, Jr. was a slave! Sadly, I later realized that my students’ wrong answers were … [Continue reading]


Myers Protest

A friend recently struck up a conversation about the “New Black.” Having just transitioned from the Age of Washington to the interwar years in my Modern Civil Rights Class, I was eager for a stimulating discussion of William Pickens or perhaps Alain … [Continue reading]

What do Black public spheres do?

Freedoms Jrnl 1st pg 1st ed

Noted political scientist Michael C. Dawson argued that if the most salient feature of the Black public sphere is defined relative to its ability to critique and transform significant problems of injustice and inequality, then the efficacy of the … [Continue reading]

America the exceptional?


If the recent discussion of Ed Baptist's new book on capitalism and slavery has not been enough for you, check out another recent piece authored by the brilliant James Oakes. This time, Oakes deftly teases apart critical strands of the decades-old … [Continue reading]

Conference Recap: Intellectual History Panels at ASALH 2014

Last weekend I presented the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History for the first time. I definitely had a blast. It was nice meeting readers of this blog and people I’ve been following on Twitter for … [Continue reading]