Clarence Lang is dean of the College of the Liberal Arts and Professor of African American Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of Grassroots at the Gateway: Class Politics and Black Freedom Struggle in St. Louis, 1936–75 (2009) and Black America in the Shadow of the Sixties: Notes on the Civil Rights Movement, Neoliberalism, and Politics (2015). He is a coeditor, with Robbie Lieberman, of Anticommunism and the African American Freedom Movement: "Another Side of the Story" (2009) and, with Andrew Kersten, of Reframing Randolph: Labor, Black Freedom, and the Legacies of A. Philip Randolph (2015). A cowinner of the OAH EBSCOhost America: History and Life Award, Lang has published in the Journal of African American History, Journal of Urban History, Journal of Social History, the Black Scholar, New Politics, Critical Sociology, American Studies Journal, and the Crisis. He also has written for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Against the Current, LaborOnline, Working-Class Perspectives, and the Black Commentator.
Building on my previous work on African American community building and social movements in St. Louis and the urban Border South, this presentation provides social and historical context to the black political mobilizations that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland in the wake of the police-related deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, respectively. This presentation also explores what historians do, or ought to do, when the focus of their work "comes home," so to speak. Specifically, what are historians' relationship with, and responsibility to, the subject matter of their research? To put it another way, how do historians creatively inhabit the history that they write?