Rebecca de Schweinitz: Youth Activism, Yesterday and Today

Today we welcome a guest post from Rebecca de Schweinitz, author of If We Could Change the World: Young People and America’s Long Struggle for Racial Equality. Hers is the first book to connect young people and shifting ideas about children and youth with the black freedom struggle, and in it she explains how popular ideas about youth and young people themselves–both black and white–influenced the long history of the movement.

As we witness the mobilization today of young people protesting gun laws in the wake of the Florida school shooting, she looks back at the long history of youth activism in America.


Youth Activism, Yesterday and Today

While young people had long been involved in the struggle for black freedom, in the 1950s and 1960s, children and youth—who were too young to vote—played decisive roles in the civil rights movement. Young people in those decades were especially inspired by the democratic ideology of America and by conceptions of young people as agents of change. An article in the National Parent-Teacher captured both the scientific and popular thinking about young people when it suggested that adults “stand aside and let young persons develop a social conscience not blacked by all our prejudices. . . . Give the kids a chance and they will come up with something better than we can think of ourselves.” Sixteen-year-old SNCC activist Lynn Wells captured this thinking when she explained: “The youth of this country is a vital part of any social movement because . . . they have not yet committed themselves to the rigid rules of conformity and complacency of the ‘establishment’ or society.” We see this today as well. While adults and politicians are bogged down in the tired old debates and rhetoric, young people want to cut through that. They aren’t embedded in the same political divides. They can look at the issue without the same baggage. They can take a new approach to thinking about gun regulation and the place of guns in modern American society.

We definitely see examples in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s of young people taking to heart the idea that they might be better situated to imagine and to bring about new ways of ordering the world. They looked at societal constraints and saw that adults weren’t finding success as they tried to address problems through the usual paths, or by being patient. One of my favorite examples is of 16-year-old high school student Barbara Johns. She and her friends watched as adults in their community repeatedly tried to work with the local school board and city officials to improve the abysmal conditions of black schools in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Grown-ups weren’t getting anywhere, so the young people decided to act. They organized a school strike and contacted the NAACP. Their case went all the way to the Supreme Court, as one of five cases involved in the Brown ruling. Parents were reluctant to support them but Barbara Johns insisted: “Our parents ask us to follow them, but in some instances . . . a little child shall lead them.” 

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Rebecca Tuuri: The National Council of Negro Women’s Monumental Achievement

Strategic Sisterhood by Rebecca TuuriContinuing our celebration of African American History month, today we welcome a guest post by Rebecca Tuuri, author of Strategic Sisterhood: The National Council of Negro Women in the Black Freedom Struggle, which will be published by UNC Press in May.

When women were denied a major speaking role at the 1963 March on Washington, Dorothy Height, head of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), organized her own women’s conference for the very next day. Defying the march’s male organizers, Height helped harness the womanpower waiting in the wings. Height’s careful tactics and quiet determination come to the fore in this first history of the NCNW, the largest black women’s organization in the United States at the height of the civil rights, Black Power, and feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Offering a sweeping view of the NCNW’s behind-the-scenes efforts to fight racism, poverty, and sexism in the late twentieth century, Rebecca Tuuri examines how the group teamed with U.S. presidents, foundations, and grassroots activists alike to implement a number of important domestic development and international aid projects.

Strategic Sisterhood will be available in both print and ebook editions this May.  Pre-order the book here.


The National Council of Negro Women’s Monumental Achievement

In the past decade our nation has celebrated the creation of two major public sites honoring African American history in Washington, D.C. In October, 2011, President Barack Obama helped to unveil a colossal monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. on the national mall. For fifteen years King’s fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha worked towards the establishment of the monument. Then in September, 2016, after thirteen years of planning and construction, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened to the public. As of January, 2018, the museum has had over 2.5 million visitors. So high is the demand for passes to visit the museum that visitors who want to be guaranteed a ticket must purchase theirs three months in advance. While both of these sites are important markers of African American history they are not the first in Washington, D.C.

As I point out in my book Strategic Sisterhood: The National Council of Negro Women in the Black Freedom Struggle, the first black leader (or American woman leader) to have a statue on public land in Washington, D.C. was Mary McLeod Bethune, a prominent educator, politician, and NCNW’s founder. On July 10, 1974, the anniversary of Mrs. Bethune’s 99th birthday, dignitaries from around the world–including Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, Vice President Gerald Ford, and Speaker of the House Carl Albert–joined with a crowd of 18,000 to celebrate the statue’s unveiling. It took sixteen years for the NCNW, which Bethune founded in 1935, to raise the necessary support and funds for the statue. When Congress approved plans for the statue in 1960, they prohibited the use of any federal money to help build it. Through constant fundraising, NCNW solicited donations as small as the change from NCNW members’ coin boxes and as large as $100,000 from the United Methodist Church. The women of the NCNW insisted that while there were many other worthy fundraising causes in the 1960s and early 1970s, it was important that their beloved leader have a prominent place in America’s capital. It was equally important, they felt, that black children learn this history. Indeed, the Bethune monument depicts Bethune passing her legacy, represented by a scroll, on to two children.

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Thomas J. Brown: Statue and Statute

Brown: Civil War CanonToday, we welcome a guest post from Thomas J. Brown, author of Civil War Canon:  Sites of Confederate Memory in South Carolina, just published in paperback by UNC Press.

In this expansive history of South Carolina’s commemoration of the Civil War era, Thomas J. Brown uses the lens of place to examine the ways that landmarks of Confederate memory have helped white southerners negotiate their shifting political, social, and economic positions. By looking at prominent sites such as Fort Sumter, Charleston’s Magnolia Cemetery, and the South Carolina statehouse, Brown reveals a dynamic pattern of contestation and change. He highlights transformations of gender norms and establishes a fresh perspective on race in Civil War remembrance by emphasizing the fluidity of racial identity within the politics of white supremacy.


Statue and Statute

I was delighted that UNC Press published Civil War Canon on February 17, 2015, which was my fifty-fifth birthday and the sesquicentennial anniversary of the climax of Sherman’s March in my home city of Columbia, South Carolina. Naturally, however, readers have often wished that the book could have incorporated later events. On June 17, 2015, twenty-one-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African Americans engaged in Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Discovery of his online archive soon led to removal of the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state house and stirred nation-wide reassessment of the memorial landscape.

Shocking though it was, the tragedy extended familiar patterns. Civil War Canon charts the development of a Lost Cause culture grounded from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century in particular South Carolina sites, such as graves, monuments, and homes. Automobile tourism and consumer culture promoted a different relationship with place in the mid-twentieth century, and digital technology has brought memory into tension with location at the turn of the millennium. Roof exemplified these trends, as well as an archetypal anxiety about the stability of the color line. His version of Confederate remembrance ripped the mask of gentility from some previous phases.

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Gregg A. Brazinsky: South Korea: The Unappreciated Ally

Gregg A. Brazinsky, photo by David M. Scavone

Photo credit: David M. Scavone

Today we welcome a guest post from Gregg A. Brazinsky, author of Nation Building in South Korea:  Koreans, Americans, and the Making of a Democracy, and more recently,  Winning the Third World: Sino-American Rivalry during the Cold War.

Here, Professor Brazinsky discusses the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and that nation’s fraught relationship with the United States.


South Korea: The Unappreciated Ally

When the Olympic flame was lit in Pyeongchang last week, it underscored South Korea’s emergence as a global economic and political leader. Unfortunately, it is not always treated as one by the United States. Washington has never completely abandoned the patron state mentality that was born decades ago when the country was completely dependent on American assistance. It unfairly expects South Korea to follow America’s lead on matters related to security even when Seoul has more knowledge and experience. It is time for the United States to stop making South Korea an unappreciated ally.

President Trump has frequently criticized South Korea for not paying its fair share of security costs with the United States. Before running for president, he tweeted: “South Korea must in some form pay for our help-the U.S. must stop being stupid!” In reality, few countries have been more supportive of Washington’s international agenda and received less credit for it.

During the 1960s when the United States called for Free World support in the Vietnam War, the ROK sent a larger contingent than any other ally. Between 1964 and 1973 more than 300,000 South Korean troops were dispatched to the bloody quagmire that was Vietnam and 5,000 lost their lives. Thirty years later during the Iraq War, South Korea again dispatched forces to aid the United States. The 3,600 troop Zaytun Division represented the third largest contingent in the U.S. led coalition after American and British forces. Washington did not show much gratitude for either of these contributions, however. Tensions flared between Washington and Seoul over other issues even as South Korean forces risked their lives to serve U.S. interests.

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D.H. Dilbeck: The Night Frederick Douglass Resolved to Learn How to Read

Frederick Douglass by D.H. DilbeckContinuing our celebration of African American History month, today we welcome a guest post from D.H. Dilbeck, author of Frederick Douglass:  America’s Prophet, which has it’s official publication today.

From his enslavement to freedom, Frederick Douglass was one of America’s most extraordinary champions of liberty and equality. Throughout his long life, Douglass was also a man of profound religious conviction. In this concise and original biography, D. H. Dilbeck offers a provocative interpretation of Douglass’s life through the lens of his faith. In an era when the role of religion in public life is as contentious as ever, Dilbeck provides essential new perspective on Douglass’s place in American history.

Frederick Douglass:  America’s Prophet is available now in both print and ebook editions.


The Night Frederick Douglass Resolved to Learn How to Read

Frederick Douglass loved words. He believed a well-used word—either spoken or written—had immense power. They could be used to proclaim truth to a world too often gone awry. After escaping from slavery, Douglass made a living dealing in words, as an author, orator, and editor. Of the many pivotal moments in his long life, few mattered more, in the end, than the night young Frederick first resolved to learn how to read.

Frederick had been born into slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 1818. He spent much of his young life on the vast plantation estate of the elite Lloyd family, where Frederick’s master worked as the chief overseer. But as an eight-year-old, Frederick was sent to Baltimore to live with a Hugh and Sophia Auld. It was here, in the Auld Family home in Baltimore, that Frederick traced his earliest desire to learn to read.

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Daniel Livesay: Belle’s Atlantic Community

Children of Uncertain Fortune by Daniel LivesayToday we welcome a guest post from Daniel Livesay, author of Children of Uncertain Fortune:  Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833, published by our friends at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

By tracing the largely forgotten eighteenth-century migration of elite mixed-race individuals from Jamaica to Great Britain, Children of Uncertain Fortune reinterprets the evolution of British racial ideologies as a matter of negotiating family membership. Using wills, legal petitions, family correspondences, and inheritance lawsuits, Daniel Livesay is the first scholar to follow the hundreds of children born to white planters and Caribbean women of color who crossed the ocean for educational opportunities, professional apprenticeships, marriage prospects, or refuge from colonial prejudices.

Children of Uncertain Fortune is available now in both print and e-book editions.


Belle’s Atlantic Community

Without question, Dido Elizabeth Belle is the most famous mixed-race Briton of the eighteenth century.  Many people today recognize her as the subject of the 2013 film “Belle.”  Born to a white man and an enslaved woman of color in the Caribbean, she was taken across the Atlantic to live her with great-uncle: England’s highest-seated judge Lord Mansfield.  Dido’s extraordinary biography certainly merited a cinematic interpretation, but her current high profile is also partly due to the existence of a stunning portrait (which graces the cover of Children of Uncertain Fortune) that makes her one of the few eighteenth-century Britons of color visible to a modern audience.  Her kinship to Mansfield, presiding judge over two of England’s most important legal cases on slavery, also linked her to the debates around abolitionism at the time.  As a mixed-race migrant from the Caribbean, she appears to have uniquely embodied so many of the complex issues around race, slavery, and family facing eighteenth century Britain.  But to what degree was she an outlier, and how unfamiliar would the society around her have been with such a migrant?

Scholars have long known about the regularity of African-descended people in Britain, even elites of color like Dido, in the early-modern period.  Yet it has been painfully difficult to sketch out the borders of the particular communities they inhabited.  In Dido’s case, her membership within a high-ranking British family seems like an anomaly, and one that might have confounded her relatives.  However, when examining mixed-race migrants to Britain in this period, it turns out that Dido was not alone, and that the white society she lived in was acquainted with multiple other mixed-race transplants from the colonies.

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Interview with Lane Demas, author of USGA award winner, Game of Privilege

Demas: Game of PrivilegeToday, as we continue to celebrate African American History month, we’re sharing an interview with Lane Demas, whose book, Game of Privilege:  An African American History of Golf, won the 2017 Herbert Warren Wind Book Award from the United States Golf Association (USGA).   This award is part of the USGA’s annual Service Awards, celebrating the the leadership, dedication and exemplary efforts of individuals who have devoted their time and talents to serve the game.

Game of Privilege is a groundbreaking history of African Americans and golf, exploring the role of race, class, and public space in golf course development, the stories of individual black golfers during the age of segregation, the legal battle to integrate public golf courses, and the little-known history of the United Golfers Association (UGA)–a black golf tour that operated from 1925 to 1975. Demas charts how African Americans nationwide organized social campaigns, filed lawsuits, and went to jail in order to desegregate courses; he also provides dramatic stories of golfers who boldly confronted wider segregation more broadly in their local communities. As national civil rights organizations debated golf’s symbolism and whether or not to pursue the game’s integration, black players and caddies took matters into their own hands and helped shape its subculture, while UGA participants forged one of the most durable black sporting organizations in American history as they fought to join the white Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA).

Game of Privilege is available now in both print and e-book editions.


Here’s a snippet from the interview.  You can read the full text of the interview at the USGA site.

Why did this book need to be written?

There have been hundreds of books written on the subject of race related to other sports like baseball and football, but golf is underserved in that regard. There are a few very good books out there by the likes of Calvin Sinnette and Pete McDaniel, but very little from full-fledged historians. I wasn’t that familiar with the game going in, so I came at it as an outsider. Because of that, I asked different questions such as, “How does the game fit into a broader picture of society?” that I thought needed more attention.

What stereotypes were you looking to challenge?

A lot of people think the story of golf and race begins with Tiger Woods, but it goes back more than 100 years and is a very important aspect of social history. I explored the roles that African Americans have played from the start to illustrate how they have left their stamp on the game in so many ways.

Where does Tiger fit into this story?

He’s certainly a major figure, but it’s complex. People want to make him the face of the movement, but it isn’t accurate to compare him to Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Tiger’s accomplishments have been extremely significant, but there were so many others that came before him. He’s also uncomfortable only being referred to as black. His multiracial heritage is something that he has embraced from the beginning.

Continue reading over at the USGA website.


Lane Demas is associate professor of history at Central Michigan University.  You can read his previous UNC Press Blog post here.

Ira Dworkin: Remembering Etienne Tshisekedi, One Year After

Dworkin: Congo Love SongToday we welcome a guest post from Ira Dworkin, author of Congo Love Song:  African American Culture and the Crisis of the Colonial State.

In Congo Love Song, Ira Dworkin examines black Americans’ long cultural and political engagement with the Congo and its people. Through studies of George Washington Williams, Booker T. Washington, Pauline Hopkins, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, and other figures, he brings to light a long-standing relationship that challenges familiar presumptions about African American commitments to Africa. Dworkin offers compelling new ways to understand how African American involvement in the Congo has helped shape anticolonialism, black aesthetics, and modern black nationalism.

Congo Love Song is available now in both print and ebook editions.


Remembering Etienne Tshisekedi: One Year After

Last year, on February 1, 2017, Etienne Tshisekedi, the longstanding Democratic Republic of the Congo opposition leader died at the age of 84 in Belgium after a storied political career spanning more than a half-century. His decades of renowned defiance of President Mobutu Seso Seke led to his election as Prime Minister in 1992 by the Conférence Nationale Souveraine (Sovereign National Conference). Mobutu removed him from office after less than three months, but Tshisekedi continued to lead the country’s most sustained opposition party–Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social (UDPS)—until his death. Today, a year later, Tshisekedi’s body remains in Brussels against the wishes of the family. The current government of the Congo refuses to allow him to return due to fear that his body will carry with it the possibility of renewed resistance.

Lewis Michaux’s National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem, 1961

Lewis Michaux’s National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem, 1961, announcing “Lumumba Lying in State.” A photograph of Lumumba is also visible in the center of the display window. Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos.

The regime blocking the repatriation of Tshisekedi’s body is led by President Joseph Kabila, who has been president since the 2001 assassination of his father Laurent Kabila. The younger Kabila faces massive popular protest calling for him to hold constitutionally mandated elections that he has delayed for several years. (The election commission most recently scheduled the ballot for December 23, 2018, but there are questions whether or not Kabila intends to honor that timetable.) Kabila’s fear of Tshisekedi’s return recalls the fear of the Belgian former colonials and their U.S. and Congolese allies responsible for killing the Congo’s first elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba on January 17, 1961. After Lumumba’s extralegal execution, his assassins dug up his secretly buried remains and burned them in acid, except for some of his teeth (and perhaps a finger or toe) which they saved as souvenirs. The savagery of his killers sought to eliminate the martyr’s body, which they feared would inspire the people. However, despite the desecration of his physical remains, Lumumba continues to inspire activists and artists throughout the world to resist colonialism and white supremacy. News of his death was kept secret until February 13, 1961, when it was met with worldwide protests including a major action by African American activists in the gallery of the United Nations, whose influence Christopher Tinson writes about in his wonderful new book Radical Intellect: Liberator Magazine and Black Activism in the 1960s. Among many brilliant forms of memorialization, Lewis Michaux’s National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem announced “Lumumba Lying in State” in its iconic storefront and held a wake with a paper mache effigy displayed in a coffin in the bookstore. Such efforts, like the uniquely embodied poetry of Jayne Cortez that later memorialized Lumumba, point toward a significance for African American intellectuals and activists that evades abstraction.

Indeed, Lumumba had been in Harlem, and met with a number of African American activists less than six months before his assassination while in the United States to appeal to the United Nations and the international community for the withdrawal of Belgian troops from his country. During this trip, Lumumba, in his efforts to recruit African Americans to the Congo, spoke on a street corner in Harlem and at Howard University, and met with members of the Harlem Writers Guild and representatives of the Phelps-Stokes Fund. Although U.S. expatriates never rivaled the numbers attracted to Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana, or even the number of Haitians who came to the Congo, Lumumba did attract a diverse group of African American students, missionaries, educators, engineers, and activists to the Congo. Among those African Americans who did travel to the Congo was Yvonne Seon, who met Lumumba in Washington. While in the Congo, she was joined by an impressive cohort of African Americans including several who worked as teachers and administrators at l’Ecole Nationale de Droit et d’Administration (ENDA), a Ford Foundation-sponsored school whose rector was the first Congolese graduate to earn a Doctor of Law degree from Louvanium, Etienne Tshisekedi.

ENDA, which was training a Congolese bureaucratic class to replace the departed colonial administration, open its doors to 180 students on February 13, 1961, by seeming coincidence on the same day that news of Lumumba’s assassination was revealed internationally. At ENDA, a young Tshisekedi worked with African American teachers and administrators until 1965. The first of these was Ted Harris, who in the late 1940s was president of the U.S. National Student Association, a CIA front, and later worked with the American Society for African Culture. After returning to the United States in 1963, he continued to work for the Ford Foundation and later became director of National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice in Chicago. David McAdams came on board at ENDA in 1963 and worked in the Congo until 1965 when he returned to the United States to work with President Johnson’s War on Poverty. In 1966, he was appointed to head the Peace Corps in Cote d’Ivoire. James Hope was hired by Harris to work at ENDA in 1963 and stayed until 1969. Shirley Elizabeth Barnes was an administrative assistant at ENDA in Congo from 1961–1965. Several decades later, she joined the foreign service, and served as ambassador to Seychelles from 1998–2001.

These early years of Tshisekedi are infrequently discussed relative to his more prominent later achievements which include the crucial alliances UDPS has made with other Kabila opponents under the banner of Rassemblement in recent years. Indeed his early career included collaboration with Mobutu, a compromised position similar to that of his African American colleagues who maintained overly close ties to the U.S. government. Still, Tshisekedi’s proximity to these African American expatriates and the kinds of educational collaborations that were happening in the country in the early 1960s remain part of his history worth considering along with the Congo years of that generation of African Americans, many of whom– including Seon, Albert Berrian, and Douglas Moore–returned to do important work in the United States. Tshisekedi’s ENDA tenure is an intriguing point of entry for considering the African American community in Congo as a site for the intertwined past and future of both countries. Etienne Tshisekedi’s son Félix has assumed his father’s mantle and serves as a reminder of the many legacies which his father has left to the future of the resistance in his country even if his body remains in exile in Belgium.

Ira Dworkin is assistant professor of English at Texas A&M University.


Kenneth Joel Zogry: The First Battle to Remove Confederate Symbolism from UNC

Print News and Raise Hell by Kenneth Joel ZogryFebruary marks the anniversary of the founding of the Daily Tar Heel, the daily student newspaper of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Today we welcome a guest post from Kenneth Joel Zogry, author of Print News and Raise Hell:  The Daily Tar Heel and the Evolution of a Modern University.

For over 125 years, the Daily Tar Heel has chronicled life at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at times pushed and prodded the university community on issues of local, state, and national significance. Thousands of students have served on its staff, many of whom have gone on to prominent careers in journalism and other influential fields. Print News and Raise Hell engagingly narrates the story of the newspaper’s development and the contributions of many of the people associated with it.

Print News and Raise Hell publishes today in both print and ebook editions.


Before Silent Sam: The First Battle to Remove Confederate Symbolism from UNC

Though completely forgotten today, the first battle over removal of symbols of the Confederacy on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus began exactly 70 years ago, in 1948.  And perhaps not surprisingly, the fight involved Carolina’s big-time sports program.

Bursting at the seams with returning servicemen on the GI bill, and flush with excitement about the possibilities of a post-war modern world, UNC was alive with the future and not fixated on the past.  Football was king – the ascension of the school’s basketball team to national attention was still a decade in the future – and the sport at Carolina was in its heyday with Coach Carl Snavely and star halfback Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice, twice runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.

But beneath the optimism of the clear Carolina blue skies lurked ugly realities.  The South was thoroughly segregated, and UNC was open to white students only.  African Americans need not apply.  Even the school’s vaunted mantle of progressivism and free speech was, in places, only a thin veneer.  In the face of escalating Cold War hysteria over communist subversives in America – a Red scare that would culminate with “McCarythism” in a few short years – the university was under pressure to prove itself true-blue and not, as conservative critics had charged since the late 1920s, a hotbed of sedition and un-American activities rife with “cracked-brain professors and baby radicals.”  This became difficult as high-profile incidents involving Junius Scales and Hans Freistadt – two of the three-dozen or so students who acknowledged membership in the American Communist Party (out of a student body of some 7500) – garnered as much national press as did football star Justice.

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Celebrating African American History Month at UNC Press

Today marks the beginning of African American (or Black) History month, and we at UNC Press are celebrating with our latest releasesYou can order these books using the promo code 01DAH40, and you’ll get 40 percent discount, and free domestic shipping if your order totals $75 or more.

For more information surrounding the establishment of African American History month, visit the following links:

From the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, background on the founding and themes of African American History Month.

Black History Month at

Ten Little Known Facts about African American History Month, from



Frederick Douglass by D.H. DilbeckMay We Forever Stand by Imani Perry Cuban Revolution in AmericaRemaking Black Power by Ashley D. FarmerEdna Lewis  Black Firefighters and the FDNYCuban Revolution in America








Remembering Joyce Kachergis—Award-Winning Book Designer and Scholarly Publishing Innovator

Joyce Kachergis

Joyce Kachergis with UNC Press production team (1977). Photo courtesy of the Kachergis family

Award-winning book designer Joyce Kachergis passed away at her home in Pittsboro, North Carolina on January 1, 2018 at the age of 92.

Joyce was the Design and Production Manager at the University of North Carolina  Press (1962-1977) when I got my first job in scholarly publishing, over 40 years ago. An early adopter of using computers for book design and typesetting, Joyce applied for and received a grant from the Kresge Foundation for UNC Press to establish an in-house composition facility, which became a model for other university presses. Joyce was a mentor, colleague, and friend to many in the University Press community over her lifetime, and never fully retired from designing books. She will be greatly missed.

Today we welcome a guest post from Jerry Minnich, a retired editor from the University of Wisconsin Press. Jerry has written a wonderful remembrance of Joyce, his longtime friend and colleague, and we thank him for letting us include it below.
—Marjorie Fowler, Digital Assets Coordinator, UNC Press


Remembering Joyce Kachergis—Award-Winning Book Designer and Scholarly Publishing Innovator 

Joyce Kachergis was the most remarkable person I have ever known.  She said that her parents raised her, in Omaha, Nebraska, to believe that she — and all women — could do anything that a man could do.  And Joyce lived her life believing in and carrying out that charge.

I met Joyce in the early 1970s, and enjoyed her friendship right up to the end of her life.  We served on various committees for the Association of American University Presses, she at the University of North Carolina Press, I at the University of Wisconsin Press.  Our closest collaboration came in 1977, when the UNC Press hosted the annual meeting of the AAUP, held that year in Asheville. Joyce’s idea was that we would send the same manuscript to five different university presses, and have each carry the project through all the stages of publication — acquisition, administrative review, finance, editorial, design and production, and sales and marketing, right up to the point of manufacture.  In this way, publishers and those seeking to enter the field could get a broad idea of how a book is conceived in all its facets by a university press.

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Daniel Livesay: Meghan Markle and the Long History of American Brides of Color in Britain

Children of Uncertain Fortune by Daniel LivesayToday we welcome a guest post from Daniel Livesay, author of Children of Uncertain Fortune:  Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833, published by our friends at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

By tracing the largely forgotten eighteenth-century migration of elite mixed-race individuals from Jamaica to Great Britain, Children of Uncertain Fortune reinterprets the evolution of British racial ideologies as a matter of negotiating family membership. Using wills, legal petitions, family correspondences, and inheritance lawsuits, Daniel Livesay is the first scholar to follow the hundreds of children born to white planters and Caribbean women of color who crossed the ocean for educational opportunities, professional apprenticeships, marriage prospects, or refuge from colonial prejudices.

Children of Uncertain Fortune is available now in both print and e-book editions.


Meghan Markle and the Long History of American Brides of Color in Britain

In the United States, nothing seems to garner more interest in the British royal family than a regal wedding.  When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement last fall, the typical fanfare of royal nuptials was amplified by Markle’s family background.  As a mixed-race child of a white father and a black mother from the U.S., Markle appears to embody the growing diversity of Britain, as interracial unions, particularly among the working and middle classes increase.  What feels so extraordinary is that Markle brings a supposedly new ancestral strain to the uppermost tier of British society: the nobility.

As with most major events, however, an historical gaze makes the wedding appear less unique than at first glance. Britons have long tied the knot with individuals of color from abroad.  Beginning in the 1970s, scholars documented the regularity of African- and Asian-descended people in early-modern Britain.  These studies demonstrated the ubiquity of black and brown servants walking the streets of London in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  People of color served colonial masters who were in Europe for business, worked as sailors on oceanic voyages, or were sold to British enslavers.  Oftentimes, they married poor white individuals, and raised mixed-race families who frequently struggled in poverty.  Historians originally highlighted these stories in order to push back against a growing anti-black sentiment that arose after largescale migrations of West Indians and Africans into Britain after World War II.  These scholars revealed that Britain did not have a lily-white and uncomplicated ancestral history.  Instead, the United Kingdom had long been something of a melting pot.

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Alice Elizabeth Malavasic: The Republic’s Need for Civility

The F Street Mess by Alice Elizabeth MalavasicToday we welcome a guest blog post from Alice Elizabeth Malavasic, author of The F Street Mess:  How Southern Senators Rewrote the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Pushing back against the idea that the Slave Power conspiracy was merely an ideological construction, The F Street Mess argues that some southern politicians in the 1850s did indeed hold an inordinate amount of power in the antebellum Congress and used it to foster the interests of slavery. Malavasic focuses her argument on Senators David Rice Atchison of Missouri, Andrew Pickens Butler of South Carolina, and Robert M. T. Hunter and James Murray Mason of Virginia, known by their contemporaries as the “F Street Mess” for the location of the house they shared. Unlike the earlier and better-known triumvirate of John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster, the F Street Mess was a functioning oligarchy within the U.S. Senate whose power was based on shared ideology, institutional seniority, and personal friendship.

The F Street Mess is available now in both print and e-book editions.


The Republic’s Need for Civility

The Oxford Dictionary defines civility as the “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior and speech.”  It is a necessary component in a functioning republic. Without it freedom is replaced by tyranny. Thomas Jefferson recognized civility’s necessity in 1801 when he wrote his Manual of Parliamentary Practice for the Use of the Senate of the United States.  In it he laid out the fundamental rules of senate decorum. As I describe in The F Street Mess, under Jefferson’s rules senate debate is to be conducted without distractions or interruptions, and a senator cannot “by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming of a Senator.”

The Senate of the United States, and the federal government as a whole, maintained Jefferson’s rules throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. That is not to say that decorum did not break down on occasion, no more extreme example of which exists than the episode known as the Caning of Charles Sumner in 1856. Sumner’s beating by Congressman Preston Brooks was precipitated by Sumner’s two day speech in the senate against the Lecompton constitution known as “The Crime against Kansas.” Sumner’s fellow senator William Seward was privy to an advance copy of the speech in which Sumner ridiculed the absent and ailing Andrew Pickens Butler of South Carolina. Seward warned Sumner that personal attacks against fellow senators violated Jefferson’s rules and advised Sumner to remove the offending remarks. Sumner did not.

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Happy MLK Day! Ashley D. Farmer on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black Power

Today, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we highlight a post written by Ashley D. Farmer, author of Remaking Black Power:  How Black Women Transformed an Era, just published by UNC Press.

Remaking Black Power by Ashley D. FarmerRemaking Black Power examines black women’s political, social, and cultural engagement with Black Power ideals and organizations. Complicating the assumption that sexism relegated black women to the margins of the movement, Ashley Farmer demonstrates how female activists fought for more inclusive understandings of Black Power and social justice by developing new ideas about black womanhood. This compelling book shows how the new tropes of womanhood that they created–the “Militant Black Domestic,” the “Revolutionary Black Woman,” and the “Third World Woman,” for instance–spurred debate among activists over the importance of women and gender to Black Power organizing, causing many of the era’s organizations and leaders to critique patriarchy and support gender equality.

This post originally ran on the blog of the National Civil Rights Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.  Established in 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Through interactive exhibits, historic collections, dynamic speakers and special events, the museum offers visitors a chance to walk through history and learn more about a tumultuous and inspiring period of change.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the post:

What Would King Do? Learning from King’s Approach to Black Power

By 1966, calls for “Black Power” electrified the nation. In the preceding year alone, black Americans had witnessed the assassination of Malcolm X, riots it Watts, the black section of Los Angeles, and the shooting of civil rights activist James Meredith, during his attempt to march from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi to promote black voter registration. This sustained violence led many black Americans to embrace “Black Power”—or calls for black community control, self-determination, and self-defense. The slogan became so popular that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. felt compelled to address it publicly. It was no secret that King did not like the phrase. In October 1966, he claimed that the slogan was “an unwise choice” that had become “dangerous and injurious.”[1] Despite this condemnation, he could not ignore the importance of Black Power to black political life. In that same speech, King also attested to the diversity and promise of the philosophy, indicating the potential of Black Power to ameliorate the dreadful socio-economic conditions impacting black lives.

King admitted that he could “not simply condemn [the] new concept,” as “this new mood ha[d] arisen from real, not imaginary causes.” The Reverend noted that the appeal of Black Power was not “limited to the few who use[d] it to justify violence.” Rather it was the manifestation of the frustration and anger of black Americans who found that the “extravagant promises” of the federal government had been had become little more than a “shattered mockery.” King was speaking of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act— both of which had failed to assure government-enforced desegregation and black voting protections. He was also attesting to the fact that “ghettos, unemployment, housing discrimination and slum schools,” still characterized black life in America. This dehumanization and degradation, King argued, had led many to embrace Black Power as “‘white power’ had left them empty handed.”[2]


[1] Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “It Is Not Enough to Condemn Black Power….” October 1966. The King Center Archive, Atlanta, Georgia.

[2] Ibid.

You can read the post in its entirety here.


Ashley D. Farmer is assistant professor of history and African American studies at Boston University.  Learn more at her website, and follow her on Twitter at drashleyfarmer.

#HaitiSyllabus — Haitian Studies titles from UNC Press


Haitian Studies titles from UNC Press

The University of North Carolina Press has prided itself on accumulating and disseminating books that range in field and scope.  We have made it our mission to contribute to the ongoing debates and discussions within and outside of the academy.  In light of President Trump’s remarks regarding Haiti, El Salvador, and various African countries, as well as about individuals immigrating from these countries, UNC Press has compiled a list of titles we have published about Haitian history that engage in intellectual discussions about the country and offer factually based evidence about the true identities, cultures, and peoples of Haiti.

We hope the list of books shared here serves as a resource for all those seeking deeper understanding and sound engagement with historical evidence. The list is by no means comprehensive, and we hope you’ll check this list here and on our website in the coming days as new titles are added.


Isles of NoiseThe Imagined Island Colony of Citizens An Islandwide Struggle for Freedom Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World Taking Haiti Liberty, Fraternity, Exile Red & Black in Haiti


Professors, you can easily and quickly request exam and desk copies online (including free digital exam copies) by visiting any of the books’ pages above. If you need assistance in choosing the right texts for your course, we’d be glad to help; contact us here.

We’re happy to offer a 40 percent discount on book purchases, and if your order totals $75, the shipping is free.  Simply enter promo code 01HOLIDAY at checkout to receive your discount.


Megan Raby: The Tropical Origins of the Idea of Biodiversity

Megan Raby: American TropicsToday we welcome a guest blog post from Megan Raby, author of American Tropics:  The Caribbean Roots of Biodiversity Science.

Biodiversity has been a key concept in international conservation since the 1980s, yet historians have paid little attention to its origins. Uncovering its roots in tropical fieldwork and the southward expansion of U.S. empire at the turn of the twentieth century, Megan Raby in American Tropics details how ecologists took advantage of growing U.S. landholdings in the circum-Caribbean by establishing permanent field stations for long-term, basic tropical research. From these outposts of U.S. science, a growing community of American “tropical biologists” developed both the key scientific concepts and the values embedded in the modern discourse of biodiversity.

American Tropics is available now in both print and e-book editions.


The Tropical Origins of the Idea of Biodiversity

Today biodiversity is a key concept in biology and international conservation. It has even become something of a household word. In a narrow sense biodiversity simply refers to the number and variety of species in a given area. You can talk about the biodiversity of a particular site, of a region, or of the entire planet. These nesting scales carry subtle connotations. They situate local species––and the local loss of species––as part of a global biological heritage. Under threat, conservationists have argued, are not just particular wild places or even individual endangered species, but rather the diversity of life on earth itself.

Biodiversity has been so successfully framed as a global resource that it is tempting to see its intellectual history as abstracted from place. Most historical accounts have also focused on the period since the term biodiversity was coined in 1985. Yet older concepts, including direct predecessors like species diversity, were developed and refined over the course of the 20th century in conjunction with longstanding scientific efforts to understand the numbers and distribution of species––particularly in the tropics. My research on 20th-century tropical biological fieldwork led me to see direct connections between the development of field stations in the circum-Caribbean area and the rise of biodiversity as a scientific and conservation concept.

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Time is running out — last days to shop the UNC Press Holiday Gift Books sale!

UNC Press Holiday Gift Books SaleYes, the holidays are over, the lights and decorations are all put away, and the eggnog disappears for eleven months.

So too must end the UNC Press Holiday Gift Books sale.  Just one week left — for you to save 40 percent off all UNC Press print books.  And, if your order totals $75, the domestic shipping is FREE!

Click here to start shopping …. and use promo code 01HOLIDAY at checkout to see your discount.

So don’t delay — if you haven’t shopped our sale yet, you only have a few more days left.

Happy New Year — and happy shopping!

Jessica Ziparo: Advice from the 1860s

Jessica Ziparo, This Grand ExperimentToday we welcome a guest post from Jessica Ziparo, author of This Grand Experiment:  When Women Entered the Federal Workforce in Civil War–Era Washington, D.C.

In the volatility of the Civil War, the federal government opened its payrolls to women. Thousands of female applicants from across the country flooded Washington with applications. In This Grand Experiment, Jessica Ziparo traces the struggles and triumphs of early female federal employees, who were caught between traditional, cultural notions of female dependence and an evolving movement of female autonomy in a new economic reality. In doing so, Ziparo demonstrates how these women challenged societal gender norms, carved out a place for independent women in the streets of Washington, and sometimes clashed with the female suffrage movement.

This Grand Experiment is now available in both print and e-book editions.


Advice from the 1860s

“Why do many women tear each other down instead of lift each other up?” CNN asked on its Facebook page in March 2015. It’s a question feminists have long asked themselves. In May 1868, suffragist Julia Archibald chided journalist and former War Department clerk Jane Swisshelm in the pages of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s newspaper The Revolution, and her words still have resonance today as women continue to seek equality in America and the world. Swisshelm had written disparagingly about sculptor, and former Post Office Department employee, Vinnie Ream. In 1866, Congress commissioned eighteen-year-old Ream to sculpt the statue of Abraham Lincoln that stands in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building. She was the first female artist ever commissioned to create a work of art by the United States government.

Swisshelm, a women’s rights advocate and friend of a (male) sculptor who had competed with Ream for the commission, wrote in an open letter to popular newspapers of the day that Ream had only earned the commission because she had “a pretty face” and knew how to flirt. Swisshelm described Ream as “a young girl of about twenty who has been studying her art for a few months” and wrote that in her studio Ream had “some plaster busts on exhibition, including her own, minus clothing to the waist.” (These assertions were untrue: Ream had been interested in art since childhood and began an apprenticeship under sculptor Clark Mills in 1865, and the female sculpture to which Swisshelm referred was not of Ream). The journalist told her readers that Ream saw Congressmen “at their lodgings or the reception room at the Capitol” and described her sitting “in a conspicuous position and her most bewitching dress” as the politicians discussed the sculptors vying for the commission.

Suffragist Julia Archibald’s message to the ladies of the 1860s still serves as a reminder for today: “Every demonstration of genius by a woman should be hailed by her sisters with joy. Women should rejoice at every evidence that the slaveries of fashion and false education have not entirely extinguished in her sex the fire of genius.”

Julia Archibald was incensed. “It would seem that [Swisshelm] must consider any appreciation which another woman receives as just so much of honor and fame detracted from [herself],” she wrote. Coming to Ream’s defense, Archibald described the young sculptor as “formerly a clerk in the Post Office Department, working for half pay, like the other women clerks, until the inspiration of genius pointed out to her a new path, rugged and thorny enough at first, but leading, it is to be hoped, to a bright future.” It was not her bewitching dress that earned her the federal commission: “by dint of hard study and the most untiring industry she has succeeded in obtaining and deserving a name, and an acknowledged position as an artist, despite the slanders of Mrs. Swisshelm, and writers of that class, with whom her youth, beauty, and attractiveness are her chief faults.”

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Adam I. P. Smith: Who in Civil War America really believed in “States’ Rights”?

Smith: The Stormy PresentFor our first post of the new year, we welcome a guest post from Adam I.P. Smith, author of The Stormy Present:  Conservatism and the Problem of Slavery in Northern Politics, 1846–1865.

In The Stormy Present, an engaging and nuanced political history of Northern communities in the Civil War era, Adam I. P. Smith offers a new interpretation of the familiar story of the path to war and ultimate victory. Smith looks beyond the political divisions between abolitionist Republicans and Copperhead Democrats to consider the everyday conservatism that characterized the majority of Northern voters. A sense of ongoing crisis in these Northern states created anxiety and instability, which manifested in a range of social and political tensions in individual communities.

The Stormy Present is available now in both print and e-book editions.


Who in Civil War America really believed in “States’ Rights”?

When people still say—as they do, a lot—that the Civil War was “really” about “states’ rights”, one common riposte is to reply “yes but the only ‘right’ they cared about was the right to own slaves.”

This is a well-intentioned line of argument but it is misleading. It implies that—yes—Confederates were committed to states’ rights even if only as a means to protect their human property. That would be bad enough, but it still gets the problem the wrong way around. The leaders of the slave states in fact opposed states’ rights and wanted a strong central government—so long as it was controlled by them, as it was for pretty much the whole time between the Revolution and the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

Southern state governments’ public explanations for secession explicitly mentioned as a provocation the Personal Liberty Laws passed by Northern states in the 1850s. These were state laws designed to neuter the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which gave Federal agents extraordinary power to by-pass normal law enforcement procedures in order to seize alleged runaway slaves. Supporters of John C. Breckinridge, the candidate of the southern wing of the Democratic Party in the 1860 election, demanded a Federal Slave Code—a set of regulations enforcing the ownership of human “property”. I could go on. The basic point is that it is difficult to enforce a system of human slavery unless the “owners” can rely on enforcement of their “property rights” at every level of the polity. Given the reality of enslaved people not wanting to be enslaved, slaveholders could not be content with only state-level enforcement.

This was why southerners were so delighted by the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857. Chief Justice Taney argued that slaves were property within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution and that therefore no one could be deprived or his or her “property” without “due process of law.” The immediate consequence of the ruling was that any attempt by Congress to ban slavery from any U.S. territory would be unconstitutional. The wider implication—quickly seized upon by Abraham Lincoln and many others—was that slaveholders could not be deprived of their human “property” even where slavery was banned by state law. Dred Scott, in other words, promised the wholesale nationalization of the institution of slavery.

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Adam I. P. Smith: The Conservatism of Revolution

Smith: The Stormy PresentToday we welcome a guest post from Adam I.P. Smith, author of The Stormy Present:  Conservatism and the Problem of Slavery in Northern Politics, 1846–1865.

In The Stormy Present, an engaging and nuanced political history of Northern communities in the Civil War era, Adam I. P. Smith offers a new interpretation of the familiar story of the path to war and ultimate victory. Smith looks beyond the political divisions between abolitionist Republicans and Copperhead Democrats to consider the everyday conservatism that characterized the majority of Northern voters. A sense of ongoing crisis in these Northern states created anxiety and instability, which manifested in a range of social and political tensions in individual communities.

The Stormy Present is available now in both print and e-book editions.


The Conservatism of Revolution

In what Herman Melville called the “Red Year” of 1848, when barricades went up in European capitals and the old order seemed to teeter on the brink of collapse, a writer in a religious publication noted a new development in American political language. The terms “conservatives” and “conservatism” were now used so frequently that it “becomes a matter of some surprise, how our predecessors managed to dispense with them so generally.”

My own reading of the newspapers, books, letters and speeches in the Northern states in the nineteenth century amply backs up this empirical observation: the invocation of “conservative men” or “conservative principles” was talismanic. Self-described conservatives dominated public life. Even those who sought radical changes in American society often felt the need to argue that they embodied “true conservatism” while their opponents traded in “false” or “pretended” conservatism.

Conservatism, in the American nineteenth-century meaning of the term, wasn’t exactly an ideology and certainly not a political program. Nor even—confusingly from our perspective—did it suggest any opposition to liberalism or progress.

But if so wide a spectrum of people wanted to be seen as conservative, what could the term possibly mean? Conservatism, in the American nineteenth-century meaning of the term, wasn’t exactly an ideology and certainly not a political program. Nor even—confusingly from our perspective—did it suggest any opposition to liberalism or progress. Editors wrote quite comfortably of “progressive conservatism, or which is the same thing, conservative progress.” Conservatism clearly did imply positive character traits like “manliness”, respectability, or moderation. Most of all, however, the ubiquity of conservatism reflected the peculiar character of the United States as a post-revolutionary society. When Americans in this period looked at the challenges they faced—whether of immigration, rapid urbanisation, or slavery—they almost always saw them through the prism of defending the revolutionary settlement which had given them, as they saw it, a society of unparalleled economic and political opportunity. And since they believed their popular government was unique, Northerners were always acutely conscious of their place in the world. To be an American in the mid-nineteenth century was to be in the vanguard of the global struggle between the rights of man and the power of tyrants. The enemies of popular self-rule were at home as well as abroad, not least among the slaveholding class of the South.

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