Matthew J. Countryman

Portrait of Matthew J. Countryman
Image Credit: Leisa Thompson Photography

Matthew J. Countryman is Chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where he is Associate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies, History, and American Culture. Countryman's area of expertise include African American social and political movements and race and U.S. politics since World War II. Countryman is the author of Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia (2006), which won the 2006 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award for the best book in civil rights history from OAH. He is currently working on a political history of African-American mayors in the late 20th century and also serves as a project lead on a collaboratory public history project entitled, "“Making and Remaking the Northern Racial Landscape: The History of Racial Segregation and Inequality in Ypsilanti and Ann
Arbor, Michigan.” Countryman is the author of the recent essay, “2020 uprisings, unprecedented in scope, join a long river of struggle in America,” published in The Conversation, an online publication of short articles written by scholars.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

In this lecture, Countryman examines the civil rights and Black Power movements in Philadelphia from World War II through the 1970s. Specifically, the lecture tracks the development of the local movement to enact legal remedies to racial discrimination and the subsequent growing disillusionment in the city's black communities with liberal remedies to racial discrimination. The lecture concludes with an examination of the city's Black Power movement and its impact on the city's politics in the 1970s.
This lecture examines the organization of residential segregation in the small industrial city of Ypsilanti, MI and its larger neighbor, Ann Arbor in the early 20th century and the subsequent reorganization of structures of racial inequality in the two cities in the decades after the civil rights victories of the 1960s. Specifically, this lectures argues that segregation has been a feature, rather than a bug, of these communities' liberalism throughout their history.
This lecture examines the continuities between the civil rights, Black Power and Black Lives Matter movements while seeking to account for the relative quiescence of civil rights activism in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Particular attention is paid to the lessons drawn by 21st century activists from the successes and failures from earlier movements.