Excerpt: Ain’t Got No Home, by Erin Royston Battat

Yet a closer inspection of the Scottsboro case reveals how complicated was the relationship between African Americans and the Communist Party in the 1930s. The CP championed the working-class and unemployed masses, but these were precisely the people who had terrorized the black boys on the train, falsely accused them of rape, and would have lynched them without the governor’s intervention. Antilynching activists, on one hand, and labor defenders, on the other, relied on diametrically opposed conceptions of the populist masses and the law. Whereas the antilynching movement called for the rule of law to quell mob hysteria, labor defense stood up for workers against a prejudicial legal system. These opposing views posed a challenge to the CP in attracting black members and sympathizers. While communists prophesied a future revolution led by an international proletariat, the most visible form of proletarian collective action in the South, according to some skeptical observers at the time, was the lynch mob.

Claude Andrew Clegg III: Elijah Muhammad, Then and Now

Our America is a product of Muhammad’s America and to know our times is to appreciate the era in which he lived.

Luther Adams: Claiming the South as Home: African Americans and Southern Identity

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri7PmuVV6vI”

Claiming the South as Home was and still is a call to action and for reparations, but it is also an expression of black southern identity.

Marc Stein: Sotomayor v. Roberts: Race, Affirmative Action, and Impatience

When I teach students about the history of constitutional law, I usually focus on the substantive legal arguments in Supreme Court decisions, but sometimes I encourage my students to focus on the tone, the emotion, the affect. I try to show my students that this can help us understand what is really going on in these decisions and it can help us consider the underlying issues and the political stakes.

Sonia Song-Ha Lee: Black-Puerto Rican Coalitions in the Civil Rights Movement

Puerto Ricans played a pivotal role in the building of the civil rights movement in New York City—one of the less-heralded but still vital sites of movement.

Interview: Blain Roberts on the Intersection of Beauty and Race in the South

The image of the beautiful southern belle/lady was, by definition, racially exclusive, and many black women would have keenly felt its discriminatory power. There were occasions, however, when individuals and institutions attempted to claim the image for black women, to challenge its underlying racial assumptions and reframe its meaning. An interesting example is a photo spread that ran in Ebony magazine in 1971 entitled “Belles of the South” that featured young women from southern historically black colleges. The magazine said very explicitly that it wanted to prove that not all southern beauties were white—that black women were belles of the South, too.

Video: Amrita Chakrabarti Myers: “Making a Way out of No Way: Black Women in the Old South”

Amrita Chakrabarti Myers, author of Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston, recently gave a talk for the James A. Hutchins Lecture at the Center for the Study of the American South entitled “Making a Way out of No Way: Black Women in the Old South.” In this lecture, she expands upon ideas discussed in her book about how black women fought for freedom in their oppressive environment.

Oscars 2014: History in Pictures

We would like to congratulate all of last night’s Oscar winners, but there are a few winners who are especially close to our hearts at UNC Press. After the dust of pre-Oscar predictions settled, Twelve Years a Slave arose victorious last night winning the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and Best Adapted Screenplay. When director Steve McQueen accepted the Oscar he said, “Everyone deserves not just to survive but to live,” and we could not be more happy that such an important film has received the recognition it deserves.

Beth Tompkins Bates: What Happened the Last Time Detroit Faced Bankruptcy

In the end, it was the federal government that made the difference between bankruptcy and [Detroit] emerging out of the crisis, as Murphy put it, with credit and honor. Throughout the crisis, Murphy practiced his belief that government’s primary responsibility was to serve the social and economic welfare of people, whose basic needs must not be subordinated to corporate America’s agenda.

Alex Lubin: Malcolm X’s Afro-Arab Political Imaginary

Malcolm’s transition would include rejecting the homegrown and Ahmadiyya-based, heterodox Islam practiced by the Nation of Islam and embracing the intellectual, moral, and political currents of orthodox Sunni Islam, African decolonization, and Arab nationalism. In this way, Malcolm’s political and moral commitments combined sometimes-contradictory political ideologies, including those of Muslim Brothers, secular pan-Africanists, and Nasserist pan-Arabists.

2014 African American History Month Reading List

UNC Press has a long history on publishing outstanding work of African American history. In honor of African American History Month, we’d like to highlight some of the amazing new work being done in the field. Here are books on African American history, culture, and modern society that UNC Press has published over the past year.

Beth Tompkins Bates: Will a New Detroit Rise out of the Depths of Despair and Hopelessness?

Will a new Detroit rise out of the ashes of its current crisis? Some cannot imagine the city Forbes recently picked as the nation’s most miserable can reinvent itself. Others place their hopes in the rise of small businesses, including urban farms, manufacturing urban bicycles, hand-made jeans, and even luxury watches. Although new startups have, so far, created only a few hundred jobs, they represent economic diversification, which may prove significant for creating a viable new Detroit after depending on one industry to anchor the community’s welfare for a century.

This is not the first time Detroit has been reinvented. In the early twentieth century the City Council was reorganized and the judicial system was transformed when an autocratic structure that denied the majority access to due process was overturned. The issue of judicial reorganization emerged as the city’s industrial elite attempted to seize control of the courts. It was the last in a series of maneuvers created and led by Henry Ford to regulate and manage the lives of Detroit’s demographically diverse autoworkers.

Video: Jonathan Holloway on Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America since 1940

http://vimeo.com/84325265

A video of Jonathan Holloway’s talk about his book Jim Crow Wisdom, which was given at the Gilder Lehrman Institute in January 2014 in New York City. This video was made by the Gilder Lehrman Institute.