This session, presented in cooperation with the Museum of African American History and highlighting the MAAH Stone Book Award, brings together five notable historians whose work focuses on institutions or individuals who were key in fomenting acts or movements of Black resistance throughout American history. Moderator Kellie Carter Jackson (Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence) will interview Vincent Brown (Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War), Kerri Greenidge (Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter), Garrett Felber (Those Who Know Don't Say: The Nation of Islam, the Black Freedom Movement, and the Carceral State) and 2020 MAAH Stone Book Award winner Jelani M. Favors (Shelter in a Time of Storm: How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism). Their riveting historical accounts reveal the many forms of constant, continued resistance by Black Americans against racism and racist policies and practices from the time of enslavement through to the present, the surge of particular black radical movements at unique moments in history, and the wide range and diverse forms of activism cultivated in the Black community— from religious to academic institutions. This session aims to underscore that Black people have always known—and have always fought to make clear—that Black lives matter. Sponsored by the Plymouth Rock Foundation and the Jim and Cathy Stone Foundation.
Activism, Radicalism, and Resistance in the Black Community
Vincent Brown is a writer, producer, Harvard professor, and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. He has written several books, including The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery, which won the 2009 Merle Curti Award, the James A. Rawley Prize, and the Louis Gottschalk Prize. He also produced Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness, a PBS documentary broadcast. His most recent work, Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War, is a gripping account of the largest slave revolt in the eighteenth century British Atlantic world that shook the foundations of empire, and reshaped ideas of race and popular belonging. Cornel West calls it, “Brilliant…groundbreaking…Brown’s profound analysis and revolutionary vision of the Age of Slave War―from the too-often overlooked Tacky’s Revolt to the better-known Haitian Revolution―gives us an original view of the birth of modern freedom in the New World.”
Jelani Favors is a writer and associate professor at Clayton State University. His work has been features in Rebellion in Black and White: Southern Student Activism in the 1960s and The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. His book, Shelter in a Time of Storm: Black Colleges and the Long History of Student Activism, chronicles the development and significance of Historically Black colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and how they became havens for the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement throughout history. It received a Library Journal starred review saying, “This vivid exploration of an important topic is a must-read for anyone interested in higher education and HBCUs in particular.”
Garrett Felber is a writer and professor at the University of Mississippi. His research and teaching focuses on African American social movements, Black radicalism, and the carceral state. His work has been featured in the Journal of American History, Journal of African American History, Journal of Social History, and Souls. Felber has lead several large projects, including the Making and Unmaking Mass Incarceration conference, the Parchman Oral History Project, and the Prison Abolition Syllabus. His book, Those Who Know Don’t Say: The Nation of Islam, the Black Freedom Movement, and the Careral State, made the shortlist for the 2020 Museum of African American History Stone Book Award. Those Who Know Don’t Say centers the Nation of Islam in the Civil Rights Era and the construction of the carceral state, and in doing so highlights a multifaceted freedom struggle. Author Dan Bergre has praised, “Richly researched and told with elegance and sophistication, this stunning book is the definitive account of the Nation of Islam’s political activism.”
Kerri K. Greenidge is a historian, writer, and professor at Tufts University. She also directs the African American Trail Project at Tufts’ Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. Her first book, Boston’s Abolitionists, tells a short history of the Black leaders in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood in the pre–Civil War Abolitionist Movement. Her latest book, Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter, reestablishes its subject in his essential place next to Douglass, Du Bois, and King among influential civil rights heroes. Black Radical won the 2020 Mark Lynton History Prize and was called “a lush layered story and a blueprint for liberation” by author Kiese Laymon.
Kellie Carter Jackson is a historian, author, educator, and speaker living in Massachusetts. She coedits Reconsidering Roots: Race, Politics, and Memory and is the Knafel Assistant Professor of the Humanities at Wellesley College. Carter Jackson’s research focuses on slavery and the abolitionists, violence as a political discourse, historical film, and black women’s history. She has had essays published in the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, and NPR, among others, been interviewed on MSNBC, SkyNews (UK), the BBC, and many other outlets, and featured in a number of documentaries on history and race in the United States. Carter Jackon is also a commissioner for the Massachusetts Historical Commission, where she represents the Museum of African American History in Boston. The Washington Post listed her latest book, Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence, as one of 13 books to read on the history of Black America.