From Politics to Protest: Charting the New Historiography of Black Politics in the 1980s and 1990s

Saturday, April 4, 2020, 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: African American; Politics; Race


This roundtable will
consider the fundamental themes, questions, and tensions that will guide the
new historiography of black politics in the 1980s and 1990s. A panel of
scholars of black conservatism, liberalism, and radicalism will discuss topics
within four distinct
, though intersecting,
areas of focus: electoral politics, black political thought, social movements,
and transnational politics. Reflecting the conference theme of “(In)equalities,”
the roundtable will also consider how these new histories of African American
politics reveal the evolution of institutions of racial and economic inequality
in the post
rights era and the new tools black activists employed to contest inequity.

Session Participants

Chair: Elizabeth Kai Hinton, Harvard University
Elizabeth Hinton is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department History and the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Hinton’s research focuses on the persistence of poverty and racial inequality in the 20th century United States. She is particularly interested in the rise of the American carceral state and the transformation of domestic social programs after the Civil Rights Movement. In her book, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Harvard University Press, 2016), Hinton examines the implementation of federal law enforcement programs beginning in the mid-1960s that made the United States home to the largest prison system in world history. From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime has received numerous awards and recognition, including the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize from the Phi Beta Kappa Society and being named to the New York Times’s 100 notable books of 2016. Hinton recently won an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation and the Rosslyn Abramson Award for Excellence and Sensitivity in Teaching Undergraduates from Harvard University. Her articles and op-eds can be found in the pages of the Journal of American History, the Journal of Urban History, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Review, The Nation, and Time.

Panelist: George Derek Musgrove, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

George Derek Musgrove, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is the author of Rumor, Repression, and Racial Politics (U. of Georgia, 2012) and co-author, with Chris Myers Asch, of Chocolate City, A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital (UNC, 2017). He is currently working on a web-based map of the black power movement in Washington, D.C. and beginning a book project tentatively titled “We must take to the streets again”: The Black Power Resurgence, 1982-97. Derek earned his Ph.D. from New York University in 2005. He lives with his wife and two sons in Washington, D.C.

Panelist: Russell Rickford, Cornell University
Russell Rickford is an associate professor of history at Cornell University. He specializes in African-American political culture after World War Two, the Black Radical Tradition, and transnational social movements. His current book, We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination, received the Liberty Legacy Award from the Organization of American Historians. He is currently working on a book about Guyana and African American radical politics in the 1970s. Rickford’s scholarly articles have appeared in Journal of American History, Journal of African American History, Souls, New Labor Review, and other publications. His popular writing has appeared in publications such as In These Times, Truthout and Counterpunch. He also writes about racial and social justice for the African American Intellectual History Society’s Black Perspectives blog and other sites. Rickford holds a bachelor’s from Howard University and a doctorate from Columbia University. A native of Guyana, he lives in Ithaca, New York.

Panelist: Danielle Lee Wiggins, California Institute of Technology
Danielle Wiggins is currently a visiting scholar at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at the University of Virginia. In July 2019, she will be an assistant professor of history in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences at the California Institute of Technology. She received her PhD in history from Emory University in 2018 and a BA in history from Yale in 2012. She is currently working on a book manuscript that examines black centrist politics in post-civil rights Atlanta and black urban leaders’ role in the rightward shift of the Democratic Party in the 1970s and 1980s. Her work has been featured in the Journal of Urban History, the Journal of African American History, Atlanta Studies, and the Washington Post.

Panelist: Ronald Williams II, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ronald Williams II is assistant professor of African American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a political historian with interests in the post-World War II histories and politics of African America, U.S. foreign relations, and the African Diaspora, he has a particular curiosity about the influence of African Americans on U.S. foreign policy, especially toward Africa and the African Diaspora. His current book project is an institutional history of the foreign policy advocacy organization, TransAfrica. An examination of contemporary manifestations of Pan-Africanism, this research, in a broader sense, seeks to understand the complexities of the involvement of African Americans in the politics of the African Diaspora over the last fifty years. From 2012 to 2013, he was a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley where he taught African American politics, public policy, and reading and composition in the Department of African American Studies.