Happy (early) Juneteenth! A Reading List, Part One

Happy early Juneteenth! If you don’t know, June 19th is “the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. Today Juneteenth commemorates African American… Continue Reading Happy (early) Juneteenth! A Reading List, Part One

Happy Haitian Heritage Month: A Reading List

A strong “Sak Pase” to all of our Haitian and Haitian-descendant readers! May is Haitian Heritage Month and we wanted to celebrate with a recommended reading list dedicated to the history of the first independent black republic in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti. May was chosen as Haitian Heritage Month because it marks the anniversary of… Continue Reading Happy Haitian Heritage Month: A Reading List

In The Smoke With Marie Jean: A Barbecue Woman Who Built a Freedom Fund

Happy National Barbecue Month! We’re here with a guest blog post from Adrian Miller, author of Ferris and Ferris book Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue. In this post, Adrian gives us some insight into the life of a black woman pitmaster from nineteenth-century Arkansas named Marie Jean. Don’t miss Adrian’s… Continue Reading In The Smoke With Marie Jean: A Barbecue Woman Who Built a Freedom Fund

The Philanthropists Behind Early Black Institutions

Guest post by Tamika Y. Nunley, author of At the Threshold of Liberty: Women, Slavery, and Shifting Identities in Washington, D.C. I remember the day I went into the archives at Howard University where librarians generously gave me access to a lovely rendering of Alethia Browning Tanner, a formerly enslaved woman who earned enough income… Continue Reading The Philanthropists Behind Early Black Institutions

Aline Helg: Slave runaway communities: the ongoing struggle

Today we welcome a guest post from Aline Helg, author of Slave No More:  Self-Liberation before Abolitionism in the Americas, just published this month by UNC Press. Commanding a vast historiography of slavery and emancipation, Helg reveals as never before how significant numbers of enslaved Africans across the entire Western Hemisphere managed to free themselves… Continue Reading Aline Helg: Slave runaway communities: the ongoing struggle

Aline Helg: Beyond the image of the “male slave rebel”

Today we welcome a guest post from Aline Helg, author of Slave No More:  Self-Liberation before Abolitionism in the Americas, just published this month by UNC Press. Commanding a vast historiography of slavery and emancipation, Helg reveals as never before how significant numbers of enslaved Africans across the entire Western Hemisphere managed to free themselves… Continue Reading Aline Helg: Beyond the image of the “male slave rebel”

Patricia de Santana Pinho: Traveling Brazil

Today we welcome a guest post from Patricia de Santana Pinho, author of Mapping Diaspora:  African American Roots Tourism in Brazil, just published by UNC Press. Brazil, like several countries in Africa, has become a major destination for African American tourists seeking the cultural roots of the black Atlantic diaspora. Drawing on over a decade… Continue Reading Patricia de Santana Pinho: Traveling Brazil

Oscar de la Torre: The Backlash Against Reparations for Slavery in Brazil

Today we welcome a guest post from Oscar de la Torre, author of The People of the River:  Nature and Identity in Black Amazonia, 1835–1945, just published by UNC Press. In his history of the black peasants of Amazonia, Oscar de la Torre focuses on the experience of African-descended people navigating the transition from slavery… Continue Reading Oscar de la Torre: The Backlash Against Reparations for Slavery in Brazil

Ira Dworkin: Remembering Etienne Tshisekedi, One Year After

Today 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,… Continue Reading Ira Dworkin: Remembering Etienne Tshisekedi, One Year After

Nicholas Grant: Apartheid South Africa and the 1957 Little Rock Crisis

Today we welcome a guest blog post from Nicholas Grant, author of Winning Our Freedoms Together: African Americans and Apartheid, 1945–1960, on the South African government’s reaction to the 1957 crisis over the integration of Little Rock Central High School. Winning Our Freedoms Together examines how African Americans engaged with, supported, and were inspired by the… Continue Reading Nicholas Grant: Apartheid South Africa and the 1957 Little Rock Crisis

Ira Dworkin: In the Name of Lumumba

The world Malcolm X and Patrice Lumumba were building for all of their children continues among poets, musicians, and activists who embody the struggles and scars, and look to places like Jackson where activists imagine and demand justice, understanding what is at stake in Banner’s call–on behalf of Lumumba–to “please remember my name.” Continue Reading Ira Dworkin: In the Name of Lumumba

Lisa A. Lindsay: The “Truth” Behind Our Ancestors

Forty years ago CBS aired the miniseries Roots, based on Alex Haley’s 1976 bestseller in which he traced his own ancestors back to West Africa, followed them to the United States as slaves, and took them forward into freedom. For the first time, a massive audience—roughly half the country’s population—confronted slavery and its legacies through an African American perspective. Roots prompted Americans to search out their own ancestors, particularly in subsequent years as digitization and personal computing brought resources to searchers’ fingertips.Now genealogy’s popularity—attested by the success of ancestry.com and the television show Who Do You Think You Are—makes it tempting to forget that we often shape our ancestors ourselves, even at the expense of historical evidence. Professional historians, in fact, were quick to point out fictions within Roots, a charge Haley accepted by originally calling his book a work of “faction.” I (re)learned this lesson about historical memory myself when it almost derailed the project that became my book, Atlantic Bonds. Continue Reading Lisa A. Lindsay: The “Truth” Behind Our Ancestors

Lisa A. Lindsay: The Enduring Allure of Emigration

The outcome of this nineteenth-century emigration movement offers little comfort for those who would leave today. At least half of the African Americans who settled in West Africa perished of tropical diseases, while others struggled to eke out a living. And they were not welcome there. Though they called their colony Liberia and touted “the love of liberty” in their official motto, the settlers’ encounters with local Africans were marked by violence, condescension, and—ironically—conditions not unlike slavery. Continue Reading Lisa A. Lindsay: The Enduring Allure of Emigration

Excerpt: The Voyage of the Slave Ship Hare, by Sean M. Kelley

It is hard to know exactly how many of the Hare captives lived in clusters that permitted them contact with their countrymen and countrywomen. To start, we do know that forty-four of the fifty-six were purchased along with at least one other Hare captive, while eleven were purchased singly, but even being purchased together did not necessarily mean the captives would stay together. Africans throughout the Americas placed a special importance on the shipmate relationship. Shipmates treated one another as kin, and recognition of the bond might continue into subsequent generations. However, being purchased in company with another Hare captive did not guarantee an enduring, close shipmate relationship. Continue Reading Excerpt: The Voyage of the Slave Ship Hare, by Sean M. Kelley

Obama Lands in Cuba

With his arrival in Cuba yesterday, President Barack Obama has become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the island nation since 1928. This three-day trip is just one step in the major shift under the Obama administration to begin to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. For insightful historical perspective on what this trip means, we check in with some UNC Press authors who are providing helpful analysis. Continue Reading Obama Lands in Cuba

Interview: Tanisha C. Ford on Black Women, Style, and Politics in the 1960s and ’70s

Gina Mahalek: Very briefly, what is Liberated Threads about?

Tanisha C. Ford: Liberated Threads is about how everyday women turned getting dressed into a powerful political act that transformed the cultural and political landscape of the 1960s and 70s around the world. Often, when we study the social movements of the mid-twentieth century, we focus on policy issues, the fight to integrate public spaces, and big events, such as marches and protests. But, in Liberated Threads, I argue that we need to focus on everyday acts such as getting dressed in order to understand how everyday people engaged in movement politics. Most people were not involved in formal political organizing. They were not members of Black Freedom movement organizations. But, they were engaged in the fashion culture of the time. I wanted to explore the various ways that fashion and style connected people to the global movement for black freedom. Continue Reading Interview: Tanisha C. Ford on Black Women, Style, and Politics in the 1960s and ’70s

History Matters: Historians Respond to the Charleston Shooting [Updated]

There is no way to tell the story of what happened on June 17, 2015, without talking about deeper histories of race, religion, and violence. Continue Reading History Matters: Historians Respond to the Charleston Shooting [Updated]

2015 African American History Month Reading List

The study of African American history is a year-round endeavor for UNC Press, but in honor of African American History Month, we’d like to highlight the great new work we’ve been able to publish in this field recently. Here are books on African American history, culture, and modern society from UNC Press over the past year, plus a few that will be available later this spring and are available for pre-order now. Continue Reading 2015 African American History Month Reading List

Edward E. Curtis IV: Teaching about Islam and the African Diaspora

These discoveries have changed the way I teach about Islam even at the introductory level. I now try to put Black people at the center of my course rather than on the margins of it (and by extension, on the margins of Islam). Continue Reading Edward E. Curtis IV: Teaching about Islam and the African Diaspora