State of the Field: The 1960s U.S. Left

Endorsed by the Society for U.S. Intellectual History (S-USIH)

Saturday, April 2, 2022, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Type: State of the Field

Tags: Labor and Working-Class; Politics; Race


In our contemporary moment of political crisis, popular uprisings, and renewed interest in socialism, the historiography of the U.S. Left during the “Long Sixties” (1950s–1970s) is more consequential than ever. While encouraging audience participation, this session seeks to assess the historiography of the broadly conceived 1960s-era U.S. Left and its repercussions for the contemporary Left, academia, American politics, and future scholarship.

Session Participants

Chair and Panelist: Jennifer Ann Frost, University of Auckland
Jennifer Frost is a historian of 20th century United States society, politics, and culture at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She is the author of “An Interracial Movement of the Poor”: Community Organizing and the New Left in the 1960s (2001), Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism (2011), and Producer of Controversy: Stanley Kramer, Hollywood Liberalism, and the Cold War (2017). Her co-edited collection of essays with Kathleen A. Feeley, When Private Talk Goes Public: Gossip in American History, appeared in 2014, and her co-authored teaching handbook with Steven Alan Carr, Teaching History with Message Movies, came out in 2018. Her focus now is on the campaign for youth voting rights in the United States, which culminated in the 26th Amendment to the Constitution in 1971. The book is tentatively titled “Let Us Vote”: Youth Voting Rights and the 26th Amendment. 2021 will mark the 50th anniversary of this enfranchisement of 18-20 year olds, the last significant expansion of US voting rights and supported by a broad and bipartisan coalition.

Panelist: Daniel S. Chard, Western Washington University
Daniel S. Chard is Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Western Washington University. He is author of Nixon's War at Home: The FBI, Leftist Guerrillas, and the Origins of Counterterrorism (University of North Carolina Press, 2021), and co-editor of Science for the People: Documents from America's Movement of Radical Scientists (University of Massachusetts Press, 2018). Chard's writing has also appear in Jacobin, Radical History Review, The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics, and Culture, and other outlets.

Panelist: Dayo F. Gore, Georgetown University
Dr. Gore is faculty in African American Studies at Georgetown University. Prior to joining the department, she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies and the Critical Gender Studies program at the University of California, San Diego and Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies and founding Director of the Black Studies Project at UCSD. She earned a Ph.D. in History from New York University and has previously taught at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Dr. Gore is the author of Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War which charts the political commitments and strategic leadership of a network of black women radicals operating within the U.S. left from the 1930s through the 1960s. She is also the editor (with Jeanne Theoharis and Komozi Woodard) of “Want to Start A Revolution?” Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle.

Panelist: Cedric G. Johnson, University of Illinois at Chicago
Cedric Johnson is associate professor of African American Studies and Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His teaching and research interests include African American political thought, neoliberal politics, and class analysis and race. His book, Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 2007) was named the 2008 W.E.B. DuBois Outstanding Book of the Year by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. Johnson is the editor of The Neoliberal Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, Late Capitalism and the Remaking of New Orleans (University of Minnesota Press, 2011). His 2017 Catalyst essay, “The Panthers Can’t Save Us Now: Anti-policing Struggles and the Limits of Black Power,” was awarded the 2018 Daniel Singer Millenium Prize. Johnson’s writings have appeared in Nonsite, Jacobin, New Political Science, New Labor Forum, Perspectives on Politics, Historical Materialism, and Journal of Developing Societies. In 2008, Johnson was named the Jon Garlock Labor Educator of the Year by the Rochester Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. He has also served on the representative assembly for UIC United Faculty Local 6456.

Panelist: Emily Thuma, University of Washington, Tacoma