Venus Bivar: The Racist Origins of Organic Farming

Organic Resistance by Venus BivarToday we welcome a guest post from Venus Bivar, author of Organic Resistance:  The Struggle over Industrial Farming in Postwar France, publishing this month from UNC Press.

France is often held up as a bastion of gastronomic refinement and as a model of artisanal agriculture and husbandry. But French farming is not at all what it seems. Countering the standard stories of gastronomy, tourism, and leisure associated with the French countryside, Venus Bivar portrays French farmers as hard-nosed businessmen preoccupied with global trade and mass production. With a twin focus on both the rise of big agriculture and the organic movement, Bivar examines the tumult of postwar rural France, a place fiercely engaged with crucial national and global developments.

Organic Resistance is now available in both print and ebook editions.


The Racist Origins of Organic Farming

The first French men to organise themselves in opposition to industrial farming, and they were indeed all men, included a neo-fascist, a handful of eugenicists, and several anti-Semites. The will to produce healthy food that was free of chemical residues stemmed from the desire to return the French race to its natural position of superiority. Pure food would build pure French bodies.

The racial politics of the organic model have in recent years come under scrutiny.[1] Scholars and critics alike have argued that organic consumption goes hand in hand with white privilege. The average Whole-Foods shopper or farmers-market enthusiast tends to be white. In short, it takes money to be a foodie, and in the United States, wealth is a function of race.

With my own work, I make an important contribution to this discussion by highlighting how race fits into the conversation from a different perspective. Organic farming in France in the 1950s was not white, at least not entirely, because of class reasons. It was white because its practitioners were proponents of eugenics who believed in the purity and the superiority of the French race. This is of course a different genealogy of racism. But just as class was not unimportant in the early years of organic farming, the language of purity remains central to organic discourse in the twenty-first century.

Continue Reading Venus Bivar: The Racist Origins of Organic Farming

Women’s History Month: A fond remembrance of Gerda Lerner (1921-2013)

Gerda Lerner, Ron Maner, and Kate Torrey, at UNC Press, 2009

Gerda Lerner (L), Ron Maner (former UNC Press Managing Editor), and Kate Douglas Torrey (former UNC Press director) at UNC Press, 2009

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we at UNC Press offer up this appreciation of the life and work of Gerda Lerner, one of the founders of Women’s History Month.  This post appeared on the UNC Press blog back in April 2010, in anticipation of her 90th birthday.

Read the original post here.

You can see from the many comments how beloved she was, and we at UNC Press continue her legacy by keeping in print her three books with us:

The Majority Finds Its Past:  Placing Women in History

The Grimké Sisters from South Carolina:  Pioneers for Women’s Rights and Abolition

Living with History / Making Social Change

We’re featuring Women’s History Month on the UNC Press website.  For more great Women’s History books, visit our category page.  And, during our American History promotion, you can get 40 percent discount, and free shipping for orders over $75.  Just use promo code 01DAH40 at checkout.


Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood: How a Monument to the Boston Massacre Was and Can Be So Much More

Race Over Party by Millington W. Bergeson-LockwoodToday, as we prepare for St. Patrick’s Day, we welcome a guest post from Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood, author of Race Over Party:  Black Politics and Partisanship in Late Nineteenth-Century Boston, publishing in May from UNC Press.  Bergeson-Lockwood discusses the creation of the monument to Crispus Attucks and the Boston Massacre, a unique moment of Black and Irish alliance in 1880s Boston.

In late nineteenth-century Boston, battles over black party loyalty were fights over the place of African Americans in the post–Civil War nation. In his fresh in-depth study of black partisanship and politics, Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood demonstrates that party politics became the terrain upon which black Bostonians tested the promise of equality in America’s democracy. Most African Americans remained loyal Republicans, but Race Over Party highlights the actions and aspirations of a cadre of those who argued that the GOP took black votes for granted and offered little meaningful reward for black support. These activists branded themselves “independents,” forging new alliances and advocating support of whichever candidate would support black freedom regardless of party.

Race Over Party can be pre-ordered here.


Race and Remembering: How a Monument to the Boston Massacre Was and Can Be So Much More

This March, as every year, Bostonians and visitors will gather near the Old State House to view a reenactment and remember the events during the Boston Massacre. They will recall that on March 5th, 1770 British soldiers murdered five colonists, including Crispus Attucks, a man of African and Native American descent, and Irish sailor Patrick Carr. Some may even visit the memorial to these victims on the south-eastern side of the Boston Common off Tremont Street. Though passersby may stop and consider the surface meaning of this landmark, where black and Irish blood mixed in rebellion to British tyranny at a crucial moment, they will likely leave unaware that the monument itself was the result of a remarkable effort of interracial cooperation and solidarity.

Indeed, it was only through Irish and black Bostonian unity that this monument was ultimately constructed. Celebrating its 130th anniversary this year, this landmark stands as a symbol not only of shared revolutionary sacrifice, but of a period in Boston’s history when African and Irish-descended residents united in a coalition seeking to transcend racial division and transform, not just the city’s memorial landscape, but the political conditions of both groups.

“Crispus Attucks Statue. Boston Common.”

“Crispus Attucks Statue. Boston Common.” (Photograph, 1888, Boston Pictorial Archive, Print Division, Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library)

During the 1880s, Boston’s Irish and African American communities drew from their shared histories of oppression and marginalization to make common political cause. Black Bostonians campaigned and voted for the city’s first Irish born mayor, Hugh O’Brien. In doing so, these so-called “colored O’Brienites” supported not only an Irishman, but a Democrat at a time when most African Americans continued to vote for the Republican Party. They drew parallels between the plight of African Americans and that of the Irish within the British Empire. These black Bostonians courted the support of Irish nationalists and forcefully advocated the Irish cause. In a prominent display of sympathy they organized a public benefit for Irish nationalist Charles Parnell’s home rule movement. O’Brien appointed black men to city positions and he joined other Irish leaders in publically calling for an end to black oppression.

“For Ireland’s Cause,” Boston Advocate, March 13, 1886. (Courtesy of Boston Public Library)

“For Ireland’s Cause,” Boston Advocate, March 13, 1886. (Courtesy of Boston Public Library)

The most enduring symbol of this cooperation would be the monument to Crispus Attucks and the other victims of the Boston Massacre. Advocates for such a commemoration had been working since before the 1880s, but their efforts met little success until O’Brien’s election. Irish city councilman Thomas Keenan joined with his black colleague Andrew Lattimore to galvanize Irish support for the memorial. “I desire to speak of the Irishman who stood by his friend Attucks when he went down,” Keenan told the city council, “but we make no social distinction with reference to honoring Crispus Attucks. . . .Of all the Bostonians who have honored Boston in the last century, no man stands higher than Crispus Attucks, although his skin is not the color of mine.” Some of Boston’s non-Irish white leaders opposed the monument, including members of the Massachusetts Historical Society who denounced any celebration of hooligans and ruffians who provoked British violence. Nevertheless, Keenan and Lattimore prevailed, and on the bright and chilly morning of November 14, 1888 a crowd gathered on the common and in Faneuil Hall to celebrate the monument’s unveiling. “I rejoice,” Mayor O’Brien declared to the crowd, “that after a lapse of more than one hundred years the erection of the Attucks monument . . . ratifies the words of that declaration, that all men are free and equal, without regard to color, creed, or nationality.”

This political alignment would not last and future generations would struggle to fulfill the optimism of those who gathered on the Boston Common that cold November morning. As highlighted by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team this past December, a very real and persistent racism and racial inequality limits economic and political opportunity for people of color in Boston today. Images of race relations in the city are often reduced to such indelible images as “The Soiling of Old Glory,” in which a black attorney was assaulted by a white student with the American flag during a violent protest against bussing in the 1970s, or the more recent incidents of racial slurs hurled at black athletes during Boston sporting events.

Remembering the events of 130 years ago does not gloss over this painful reality, but it offers a touchstone to a past that cannot be reduced to perpetual conflict or division. The Boston Massacre memorial embeds more than just a memory of shared revolutionary struggle, but a moment of political challenge as well, hidden in plain sight, when black and Irish Bostonians came together to celebrate their important contributions to the history of the city and nation and seek together a positive future.


Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood is a historian of race, law, and politics in the nineteenth century.



It’s March Madness: Time for another Redemption Signed Book Giveaway!


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Excerpt: Print News and Raise Hell: The Unknown Early Origins of Basketball at Carolina

Print News and Raise Hell by Kenneth Joel ZogryYesterday was Selection Sunday, which officially kicks off March Madness.  Today, we feature an excerpt from Kenneth Joel Zogry’s Print News and Raise Hell:  The Daily Tar Heel and the Evolution of a Modern University, on the early origins of basketball at UNC.

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 is available now in both print and ebook editions.


The Unknown Early Origins of Basketball at Carolina

Despite numerous books on the history of basketball at UNC, the true early origins of the game on campus have remained shrouded in mystery. The origins of basketball at Carolina may actually date back to 1896—and, more significantly, the concept was likely brought to campus by someone who learned the game from its creator, James Naismith.   On April 25, 1896, a small article in The Tar Heel reported that a Mr. H. E. Mechling had been hired as the university’s physical instructor and noted that Mechling came to UNC from the School for Christian Workers in Springfield, Massachusetts (at this time, the campus YMCA oversaw all sports activites at UNC).  A subsequent article stated that Mechling was a graduate of that school and had served there for three years as the assistant physical instructor.  That puts Mechling at the school in 1891, the year Naismith first mounted two peach baskets on poles—without holes, as early on players had to retrieve the balls from the baskets—and invented basketball.  In 1941, on the fiftieth anniversary of the game, a newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky, ran an interview with the elderly Mechling (who had moved there after leaving UNC in 1898), in which he reminisced about being on Naismith’s first basketball team.  No records survive that verify Mechling’s story about being on the first team, but certainly he learned the sport directly from Naismith.  At Carolina, Mechling served not only as physical instructor but was a medical student and captain of the medical and pharmaceutical student’s intramural football team.

Continue Reading Excerpt: Print News and Raise Hell: The Unknown Early Origins of Basketball at Carolina

American History Sale 2018 — Save 40 percent on all UNC Press books!


We are extremely excited about our new American History books, and as a gift to you, we’ve put them all on sale!  To see our full selection of books in American History, visit the sale page on the UNC Press website. Use discount code 01DAH40 at checkout to see your discount, and if your order total is $75 or more, we’ll ship it for free!

Oh, and by the way . . . you can use the promo code 01DAH40 to save on ANY UNC Press print book, in any subject!

Here’s a small sample of our newest American History titles.

Visit the sale page for the full list.

Happy shopping!

Campaign of Giants, The Battle for Petersburg, Volume 1From Petersburg to Appomattox by Caroline E. JanneyMay We Forever Stand by Imani Perry Frederick Douglass by D.H. Dilbeck Cuban Revolution in America Edna Lewis Black Firefighters and the FDNY The F Street Mess by Alice Elizabeth Malavasic Jessica Ziparo, This Grand Experiment Rymsza-Pawlowska, History Comes Alive Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South, by Karen L. CoxRemaking Black Power by Ashley D. Farmer

John Sherer: The 2017 UNC Press Annual Report

UNC Press Annual Report 2017

Click the image to read the 2017 UNC Press Annual Report

The 2017 UNC Press Annual Report

In its more than nine and a half decades of existence, the University of North Carolina Press has never created a comprehensive annual report. We have steadily published seasonal catalogs and more recently, a donor report recognizing their invaluable support for the Press. These records have created a collective archive of our publishing outputs. So why do we need something more now?

The scope of what we do today is broader than it’s ever been. In addition to the publication of more than 100 new books and 11 journals in 2017, there’s a remarkably diverse set of publishing activities under way here. At the Press, we’ve dramatically expanded the definition of what it means to be a university-based press in the twenty-first century. This report is an attempt to capture that richness and share it with you.

I want to introduce the report by offering a summary of how I see things from the director’s desk. Despite persistent challenges in the publishing and academic landscapes, the Press is being truly opportunistic and ambitious. After several years of volatility, our sales patterns are stabilizing and improving, which is allowing us to better forecast results and plan investments. Our list of books remains as strong as ever. But at the same time, we’re expanding our publishing activities to broaden impact and to diversify our revenue models. We’re collaborating with other presses to leverage the economies of scale that are so essential in modern publishing. And we’re focused on new digital workflows and formats to help our authors find their readers.

Books Published and Promoted in 2017

Under the UNC Press imprint, we published 118 new books in 2017 (see page 12), the highest annual total in our history. We received more than fifty awards (see page 24), which means that more than half of our new academic books are winning awards. Most prestigiously, the Press won its third Bancroft Prize in eleven years—a feat unmatched by any other trade or university press. These awards are a testament to the cutting-edge quality of our books, as well as to the extraordinary care the Press takes to copyedit, design, and market them.

As part of an ongoing effort to improve the ways in which we connect writers with readers, the marketing department revamped our website this past year. The department has also undertaken a number of initiatives such as using social sharing, the creation of online forums to host conversations with our authors, more investments in the digital discoverability of our books, and an expansion of our reach and impact with traditional book review and media platforms.

Continue Reading John Sherer: The 2017 UNC Press Annual Report

Jerry Gershenhorn: Louis Austin–A Courageous Voice for Black Freedom in North Carolina

Louis Austin and the Carolina Times by Jerry Gershenhorn Today we welcome a guest post from Jerry Gershenhorn, author of Louis Austin and the Carolina Times:  A Life in the Long Black Freedom Struggle, just published by UNC Press.

Louis Austin (1898–1971) came of age at the nadir of the Jim Crow era and became a transformative leader of the long black freedom struggle in North Carolina. From 1927 to 1971, he published and edited the Carolina Times, the preeminent black newspaper in the state. He used the power of the press to voice the anger of black Carolinians, and to turn that anger into action in a forty-year crusade for freedom. In this biography, Jerry Gershenhorn chronicles Austin’s career as a journalist and activist, highlighting his work during the Great Depression, World War II, and the postwar civil rights movement. In examining Austin’s life, Gershenhorn is able to tell the story of the long black freedom struggle in North Carolina from a new vantage point, shedding new light on the vitality of black protest and the black press in the twentieth century.

Louis Austin and the Carolina Times is available now in both print and ebook editions.


Louis Austin: A Courageous Voice for Black Freedom in North Carolina

As we near the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century, black American activists are fighting for racial justice in the nation’s political, economic, educational, and justice systems. Meanwhile, the enemies of racial equality pursue policies to suppress the black vote, incarcerate more African Americans, and continue policies that disproportionately impoverish African Americans. Furthermore, powerful government officials attack the media in a transparent attempt to weaken the ability of the media to tell the truth about policies that would perpetuate inequality in America.

These are not new issues. During the early and middle decades of the twentieth century, black activists engaged in a long freedom struggle against a broad range of racial injustices, some that were not so different from today’s.  In North Carolina, a key leader who challenged white supremacy emerged in 1927, when Louis Austin purchased the Carolina Times, Durham’s black news weekly, and transformed the paper in to a trumpet for justice. In doing so, he provided a voice for the black community, during a time when white newspapers regularly ignored or demonized black people in their pages. An extraordinarily outspoken and dynamic leader, Austin fearlessly attacked anyone, including prominent blacks and whites, who stood in the way of freedom, equality, and opportunity for all people. He exemplified the Carolina Times’s motto, “The Truth Unbridled.”

During the 1930s, Austin initiated a new strategy in the black freedom struggle, as he employed legal tactics to challenge segregation and counseled African Americans to leave the Republican Party for the Democratic Party to increase black political influence in the one-party state. Austin led voter registration drives, campaigned for public office, pursued integration of higher education in the courts, lobbied for equal pay for black teachers and equal funding for black schools, demanded equal economic opportunity for African Americans, and denounced police brutality. In 1933, Austin, black attorneys Conrad Pearson and Cecil McCoy, and a young man who hoped to become a pharmacist, Thomas Raymond Hocutt, filed the first lawsuit to integrate higher education in the South, when they sued the University of North Carolina. Although the case was unsuccessful in the short run, it was an important start to the two-decade legal struggle that achieved success in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the landmark Supreme Court case that overturned legal segregation of southern public schools.  In 1934, Austin was elected justice of the peace as a Democrat in 1934, a victory that was hailed by the Pittsburgh Courier as the beginning of the New Deal in the South. The following year, Austin co-founded the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs (DCNA), which promoted black political participation and worked to improve black life in Durham.

Continue Reading Jerry Gershenhorn: Louis Austin–A Courageous Voice for Black Freedom in North Carolina

John Weber: Walls and Other Monuments to Failure

From South Texas to the Nation by John WeberToday we welcome a guest post by John Weber, author of From South Texas to the Nation: The Exploitation of Mexican Labor in the Twentieth Century.

In the early years of the twentieth century, newcomer farmers and migrant Mexicans forged a new world in South Texas. In just a decade, this vast region, previously considered too isolated and desolate for large-scale agriculture, became one of the United States’ most lucrative farming regions and one of its worst places to work. By encouraging mass migration from Mexico, paying low wages, selectively enforcing immigration restrictions, toppling older political arrangements, and periodically immobilizing the workforce, growers created a system of labor controls unique in its levels of exploitation.

Ethnic Mexican residents of South Texas fought back by organizing and by leaving, migrating to destinations around the United States where employers eagerly hired them—and continued to exploit them. In From South Texas to the Nation, John Weber reinterprets the United States’ record on human and labor rights. This important book illuminates the way in which South Texas pioneered the low-wage, insecure, migration-dependent labor system on which so many industries continue to depend.


Walls and Other Monuments to Failure

In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, cities and towns all over the South discovered a renewed enthusiasm for one small part of their local history.  Alarmed by the onrushing failure of the system of legal segregation, white Southern political elites comforted themselves by building monuments to a heroic past that never existed.  Jim Crow was crumbling under the combined assault of grassroots activism and legal assaults through the federal judiciary during the 1950s and 1960s. Rearguard actions like Massive Resistance and the closing of schools in Virginia and Arkansas as a last ditch effort to stall their desegregation were very public failures.  But advocates of white supremacy tried to hide their less than noble present and eroding political power by erecting mass-produced monuments to the Confederacy and its bloody defense of slavery a century earlier.  These monuments celebrated a supposedly heroic defense of southern society against the intrusions of the federal government, but they should be understood as reactions born out of weakness and the imminent collapse of a system explicitly built on white supremacy.  Through the invention of a glorious past, embodied in flimsy metal statues of generic Confederate soldiers, they hoped to paper over the failure of the politics of white supremacy.

The recent reemergence of white nationalism as an overt political force, accompanied by episodes of white supremacist violence in Charleston, South Carolina, and Charlottesville, Virginia, has led to the long overdue dismantling of these monuments to exclusion at the same time that a new monument to exclusion threatens to rise along the United States-Mexico border.  Demands for a border wall are not new, nor are efforts to use the U.S.-Mexico border as a cheap political prop, but tired, empty notions of immigrant invasions and demands for firmer border control have a clear political resonance.  The last Republican presidential campaign was built almost entirely around barely hidden appeals to white resentment, the least subtle example of which was the promise to build a wall and force Mexico to fund it.

Continue Reading John Weber: Walls and Other Monuments to Failure

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.” 

Continue Reading Rebecca de Schweinitz: Youth Activism, Yesterday and Today

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.

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

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.

Continue Reading Thomas J. Brown: Statue and Statute

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.

Continue Reading Gregg A. Brazinsky: South Korea: The Unappreciated Ally

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.

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

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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