OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

OAH Distinguished Lectureship program 40 years 1981-2021

Kevin Gaines

Portrait of Kevin Gaines

Kevin Gaines is the Julian Bond Professor of Civil Rights and Social Justice at the University of Virginia. He is a member of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies and the Corcoran History Department. His interests include U.S. and African American intellectual and cultural history; race and gender politics in post–World War II America; African American cultural production; and global dimensions of the African American freedom movement. He is the author of Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture during the Twentieth Century (1996), winner of the American Studies Association's John Hope Franklin Publication Prize; American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates in the Civil Rights Era (2006); and the forthcoming book, "The African American Journey: A Global History." He is also a past president of the American Studies Association.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

​When considering the civil rights movement, images come to mind of the pivotal and harrowing confrontations between nonviolent civil rights demonstrators and pro-segregation forces willing to resort to deadly violence in such southern locales as Birmingham, Selma, and rural Mississippi. But for U.S. policymakers, civil rights activists and supporters, and observers at home and overseas, these local campaigns were always connected to global affairs.  International press coverage ensured that audiences all over the world avidly followed the United States’ convulsive struggle toward a more just society.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. civil rights movement transformed American society by ending state-sanctioned racial discrimination in the U.S. South, in what were the former Confederate states.  In what contemporaries called the second Reconstruction, Americans of all backgrounds marched, practiced nonviolent civil disobedience, filled jails, aroused the conscience of many fellow Americans, and often did so in the face of hostile mobs and vigilante terror. These gains were achieved at great cost. Many lives were lost to the violent deeds of the enemies of change. Acts of brutality waged by segregationists against nonviolent demonstrators demanding basic human rights garnered national and international headlines.  Civil rights campaigns in the South unfolded during the Cold War, and coincided with liberation movements in Africa, linking U.S. events to international affairs.