OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

OAH Distinguished Lectureship program 40 years 1981-2021

Joe William Trotter Jr.

Portrait of Joe William Trotter Jr.

Joe William Trotter Jr. is the Giant Eagle University Professor of History and Social Justice at Carnegie Mellon University, where he also founded and directs the Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE). He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books include Black Milwaukee: The Making of an Industrial Proletariat, 1915–1945 (1985, new edition 2007); Coal, Class, and Color: Blacks in Southern West Virginia, 1915–1932 (1990); River Jordan: African American Urban Life in the Ohio Valley (1998); the two-volume textbook, The African American Experience (2001); and Race and Renaissance: African Americans in Pittsburgh since World War II (2010), with Jared N. Day. His most recent books include a history of black workers since the Atlantic slave trade, Workers on Arrival: Black Labor in the Making of America (2018); Pittsburgh and the Urban League Movement: A Century of Social Service and Activism (2020); and an edited collection of his essays, African American Workers in the Appalachian Coal Industry (2022), Dozens of his scholarly articles and essays have appeared in a variety of edited volumes and professional journals, including the Journal of Urban History, the Journal of American Ethnic History, and the International Review of Social History. Trotter teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in African American and U.S. urban, labor, and working-class history. He has spoken in a variety of professional forums in the United States and abroad, including institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, and the Middle East. He is also a past president of the Labor and Working-Class History Association; a past vice president of Pittsburgh's Heinz History Center, a Smithsonian affiliate; and current president of the Urban History Association.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

This lecture explores arguments for reparations based on the experiences of African and African American workers in the U.S., Caribbean, and Africa. It considers how the foundations for reparations shifted within the contexts of enslavement, emancipation, and the subsequent rise and fall of the modern urban industrial order on a global scale. It also calls attention to the gradual emergence of a new transnational system of racial and class inequality anchored in the economic, social, political, and cultural dynamics of ascendant digital age capitalist development.