September Links and News

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History just had their annual conference featuring lots of great panels on black thought and culture, including sessions on Black Power and print culture, gender and Pan-Africanism, rhetoric and civil rights in the 19th century, and Frederick Douglass’s philosophy of art. I will post a recap of these panels and ones that other AAIHS bloggers attended in my monthly post on October 5. [Continue Reading...]

Capitalism’s slavery

One of the hoariest questions in black history is finding new life these days. There has been much discussion lately of the historical relationship between slavery and capitalism in the United States, and it has bled out into the popular media and public debate.

Let’s start at the top of the ladder of credibility and work our way down.


The Economist recently ran a critical review of Edward Baptist’s new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. In it, the unnamed author asserted (among other things) that “Mr Baptist has not written an objective history of slavery. Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains.” This prompted a flurry of critical responses, emblematized by a searing twitter campaign. “Why does @Ed_Baptist’s book blatantly ignore slave-on-slave crime?” asked one, clearly satirizing conservative responses to critics of over-policing in Ferguson, Missouri. Another posted: “History paints Vlad the Impaler as evil, but what about the stake sharpeners and executioners he gainfully employed[?]”


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Black Politics in a New World

  Perhaps Henry Highland Garnet was accustomed to having his life threatened. In early August 1865, the black activist and orator, who had spent most of his life in New York, sat as an honorary delegate at a State Convention of the Colored … [Continue reading]

My Own Little Piece of Heaven: African American Burial Grounds as Vehicles for Economic Autonomy in the 19th Century

William H. Wilson Cemetery Deed-purchased July 29, 1872 -lot B, number 446

By horse and buggy, or maybe even on foot, on July 29, 1872 William H. Wilson made the trek from East or West Baltimore, Maryland down to the city’s Southside to purchase land. Feeling the optimism of the time, Wilson must have been full of pride … [Continue reading]

What does it mean to be untrammeled? African American intellectual autonomy

Second Amenia Conference, original in the Library of Congress

My dissertation title-before-the-colon was a quote I kept stumbling upon in my primary sources: "Untrammeled Thinking." In that lengthy tome, I attempted to map the mental spaces of the interwar generation of black intellectuals through the thirty … [Continue reading]

Intellectual History Panels at ASALH

We at AAIHS are excited about the upcoming annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History next week in Memphis. Below are some panels on African American intellectual history that may be particularly appealing to … [Continue reading]

Haiti, Hip-Hop, & Hypermasculinity

Rick Ross

8 Mile opens to a sinister beat and a haunting dedication to “all the killers and a hundred dollar billers.” Even casual hip-hop fans immediately recognize the song as Mobb Deep’s iconic “Shook Ones (Part II).” They also quickly identify the actor … [Continue reading]

The South was Good Enough


“They lived from the inside out, fashioning and developing a value system that Whites could neither constrict or control. For them, as for Hurston, [Black] life was more than a response to White injustice. They lived by their own yardstick and … [Continue reading]

Review of Jonathan Scott Holloway, Jim Crow Wisdom


Today's guest post is a book review by Hettie Williams, Ph.D. candidate at Drew University and lecturer in the Department of History and Anthropology at Monmouth University. Johnathan Scott Holloway, Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory & Identity in Black … [Continue reading]

The failure of liberalism in the era of emancipation


James Oakes, an historian whose work I very much admire, recently wrote two pieces for Jacobin taking issue with the ways “historians” treat Republicanism, slavery, and emancipation. In one, he claims that historians have constructed a narrative of … [Continue reading]