Racism in American History. Selected articles from newspapers and popular magazines. Some podcasts and videos also.
Go to Century Past History Resources for a directory of all pages.
Five million public school students in Texas will begin using new social studies textbooks this fall based on state academic standards that barely address racial segregation. The state’s guidelines for teaching American history also do not mention the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws. And when it comes to the Civil War, children are supposed to learn that the conflict was caused by “sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery” — written deliberately in that order to telegraph slavery’s secondary role in driving the conflict, according to some members of the state board of education.
Emma Brown, Washington Post 2015
DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post 2018
At the New-York Historical Society, the difficulties faced by black Americans even after ‘freedom’ was gained are studied in a powerful new exhibition
Julianne McShane, Guardian 2018
All but one of the remains tested so far have been African-American males
Sarah Pruitt, History 2018
Thirty years ago John Howard Griffin, a white Texan, became an itinerant Southern black for four weeks. His account of the experience galvanized the nation.
Ernest Sharpe Jr., American Heritage 1989
The Massacre of Black Sharecroppers That Led the Supreme Court to Curb the Racial Disparities of the Justice System
White Arkansans, fearful of what would happen if African-Americans organized, took violent action, but it was the victims who ended up standing trial
Francine Uenuma, Smithsonian 2018
“Quality of life” laws serve as a potent instrument of racial segregation. They provide commercial establishments, law enforcement officers and everyday citizens with tools enabling them to police racial boundaries while at the same time claiming to simply be upholding the law. In contrast to the Jim Crow laws of America’s dark past, these laws supposedly apply to everyone. But in practice, they clearly don’t.
Andrew W. Kahrl, NY Times 2018
DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post 2018
A housing policy expert explains how federal government policies created the suburbs and the inner city
Katie Nodjimbadem, Smithsonian 2017
Bodies of sugar cane workers recently discovered in Texas reveal gruesome details about the convict leasing system.
Brent Staples, New York Times 2018
A revelation of appalling conditions in Florida and other states, which make possible the actual enslavement of whites and blacks under trust domination.
Richard Barry, Cosmopolitan 1907
Ida B. Wells 1892
Open Culture 2014
Destin Jenkins, Process History Blog 2017
American slavery had no bounds. It penetrated every corner of this country, materially, economically and ideologically, and the unjust campaign to preserve it is embedded in our built environments, North and South, East and West. Detroit is a surprising case in point.
Tiya Miles, NY Times 2017
In 1933, faced with a housing shortage, the federal government began a program explicitly designed to increase — and segregate — America’s housing stock. Author Richard Rothstein says the housing programs begun under the New Deal were tantamount to a “state-sponsored system of segregation.”
Terry Gross, NPR 2017
In 1844, all black people were ordered to get out of Oregon Country, the expansive territory under American rule that stretched from the Pacific coast to the Rocky Mountains. Those who refused to leave could be severely whipped, the provisional government law declared, by “not less than twenty or more than thirty-nine stripes” to be repeated every six months until they left.
DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post 2017
Fought from September 26, 1918 to the Armistice on November 11, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive included the 365th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division “Buffalo Soldiers.” Corporal Benjamin Blayton was one of those who served in this historic American regiment.
Christy Wallover and Patri O’Gan, National Museum of American History 2017
Racial animus trumps economic anxiety, and has for decades.
Calvin Schermerhorn, Washington Post 2017
By bussing black kids from Hartford to the shore, Ned Coll took a stand against the bigotry of “armchair liberals”
Amy Crawford, Smithsonian 2018
Separating Migrant Families Is Barbaric. It’s Also What the U.S. Has Been Doing to People of Color for Hundreds of Years.
Shaun King, Intercept 2018
Slavery in Detroit has remained an enormous secret. It is an essential chapter in Detroit’s 311-year story, but it has been pushed back into archives and covered up by decades of neglect and denial. Few people, even well-informed college graduates, know that slavery played a key role in the growth of Detroit, and wealthy Detroiters owned slaves for the first 120 years of the city’s existence.
Bill McGraw, Deadline Detroit 2012
One duty of members of the town council of Providence, RI in 1825 was to “bind out the children of blacks”; taking children as young as three away from families and indenturing them to other families. Not only was it ethically questionable – it had no basis in law.
Gabriel Loiacono, Process History Blog 2018
The author relates his personal history of leaving Florida in 1954 for Williams College in Massachusetts, where he became aware of his own racist views and of how racism permeated American society.
Charles B. Dew, Chronicle of Higher Education Review 2016
Two years of the ‘Irish slaves’ myth: racism, reductionism and the tradition of diminishing the transatlantic slave trade
The myth of ‘Irish slaves’ and of an ‘equality of suffering’ between enslaved Africans and white Europeans has gone mainstream, appearing everywhere to legitimate racism and to undermine black rights struggles.
Liam Hogan, Open Democracy 2016
Contrary to popular conceptions, ignorant and hateful people have not been behind the production and reproduction of racist ideas in America. Instead, racist ideas have usually been produced by some of the most brilliant and cunning minds of each era. And these women and men generally did not produce these ideas because they hated black people. In my book, “Stamped from the Beginning,” I chronicle the entire history of racist ideas, from their origins in 15th-century Europe, through colonial times when early British settlers carried racist ideas to America, all the way to their emergence in the United States and persistence into 21st century.
Ibram X. Kendi, The Conversation 2017
History website. The Texas Slavery Project takes a deep look at the expansion of slavery in the borderlands between the United States and Mexico in the years between 1837 and 1845. Based at the Virginia Center for Digital History, the project offers a number of digital tools that allow users to explore the changing face of slavery in early Texas:
Virginia Center for Digital History 2008
Nicholas Guyatt, Black Perspectives 2016
The first wave of resistance [to the ruling] lasted an entire decade, during which time Prince Edward County, Va., school officials closed public schools for five whole years rather than comply with the Supreme Court order to desegregate.
Arica L. Coleman, Time 2018
Irish Americans were slaves once too — or so a historically inaccurate and dangerously misleading internet meme would have you believe.
Natasha Varner, PRI 2017
Vanessa M. Holden, Black Perspectives 2018
Sven Beckert, Chronicle of Higher Education Review 2014
Podcast interview. Jared Hardesty, author of ‘Unfreedom: Slavery and Dependence in Eighteenth-Century Boston’, reveals details about colonial Boston and how its people justified slavery; origins of Boston slaves and where Bostonians purchased them; and, what life was like for enslaved men and women in colonial Boston.
Jared Hardesty, Ben Franklin’s World 2018
Paul Gardullo and Lonnie G. Bunch III, CNN 2018
A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, titled ‘Teaching Hard History: American Slavery’, is meant to be a resource for teachers who are eager to help their students better understand slavery — not as some “peculiar institution” but as the blood-soaked bedrock on which the United States was built. The report, which is the work of the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project, is also an appeal to states, school district leaders and textbook-makers to stop avoiding slavery’s hard truths and lasting impact.
Cory Turner, NPR 2018
Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon was written in the 1930s, but has only just been published. Why has it taken so long for the remarkable story of Oluale Kossola to be made public?
Afua Hirsch, Guardian 2018
Slavery, “Civilization,” and Sovereignty: African American and Native American Histories in the Deep South
Historian Barbara Krauthamer speaks in a 1-hour video, sponsored by the Organization of American Historians
Barbara Krauthamer, YouTube 2016
Keri Leigh Merritt, Black Perspectives 2017
In the 1930s, the freedom of the open road beckoned, but for African Americans traveling in the Jim Crow era, highways could be fraught with peril.
DeNeen L. Brown 2017
DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post 2018
Trimiko Melancon, Black Perspectives 2017
This doctor’s experiments tortured poor cancer patients, and he got away with it.
All That’s Interesting 2017
Emily Badger, NY Times 2017
Behind the whitewashed history of the Sunshine State
Bryan Bowman and Kathy Roberts Forde, Washington Post 2018
How Southern whites found replacements for their emancipated slaves in the prison system.
Shane Bauer, Slate 2018
Marc Parry, Chronicle of Higher Education Review 2016
Terence McArdle, Washington Post 2018
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X Kendi – review
Even abolitionists don’t emerge unscathed from a fearless, brilliant history of racist thinking spanning 500 years
Davvid Olusoga, Guardian 2017
Brief descriptive encyclopedia article
Encyclopedia of Detroit
How? By focusing on white property rights, not black civil rights.
Elizabeth A. Herbin-Triant, Washington Post 2017
An African-American burial ground recently unearthed in Texas reveals details about an ugly chapter in the history of the American South.
Editorial Board, NY Times 2018
3-minute YouTube video
New information published in a 2017 book prompted federal investigators to reopen their probe into the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till in rural Mississippi, according to two people familiar with the case.
Till, a 14-year-old visiting from Chicago, was murdered after he was accused of whistling at and making sexual advances toward a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, during an interaction at Bryant’s grocery store in Money, Miss. The teen was kidnapped Aug. 28, 1955, and was tortured and shot. His mangled body was found days later in the Tallahatchie River.
Kristine Phillips, Wesley Lowery and Devlin Barrett, Washington Post 2018
Historian Liam Hogan has spent the last six years debunking the Irish slave myth.
David M. Perry, Pacific Standard 2018
Contrary to popular conceptions, American history does not bequeath a clear-cut battlefield of racists squaring off against antiracists. The history is much more complex and contradictory. Some Americans articulated both antiracist and racist ideas. Some of America’s greatest warriors against anti-Black racism have been some of America’s greatest enforcers of racist ideas.
Ibram X. Kendi, Black Perspectives 2017
The suffragist heroes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony seized control of the feminist narrative of the 19th century. Their influential history of the movement still governs popular understanding of the struggle for women’s rights and will no doubt serve as a touchstone for commemorations that will unfold across the United States around the centennial of the 19th Amendment in 2020
Brent Staples, NY Times 2018
On November 4 (2016), the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, the couple who inspired the landmark 1967 civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, which challenged laws prohibiting interracial marriages, will be told on the big screen in the new movie Loving. Before its release, it’s important to understand the world in which they lived. What was it like to marry interracially in a state where it was illegal?
Candice Frederick, NY Public Library 2016
Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror
Review article of ‘The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America’, by Andres Resendez.
Margaret Ellen Newell, Chronicle of Higher Education 2016
Podcast interview with Andres Resendez, author of ‘The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America’.
In the Past Lane Podcast 2016
The achievements of the Pullman Porter’s Union were a significant civil rights victory for both U.S. labor and the civil liberties of African-Americans. (Brief article, with a link to 1997 journal article).
Livia Gershon 2016
Henry Louis Gates Jr., NY Times 2017
Brandon Byrd examines resistance to the American Colonization Society’s attempts to remove free blacks from the US.
Brandon R. Byrd, Public Books 2017
Stephen Tuck revisits Malcolm X’s historic 1964 speech at the Oxford Union and explains why his words so electrified the audience…
Stephen Tuck, History Extra 2014
“Stop the Runaway,” Andrew Jackson urged in an ad placed in the Tennessee Gazette in October 1804
DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post 2017
In 1852, the Indiana General Assembly formed the Indiana Colonization Board and began providing funds to help Indiana free blacks emigrate to Liberia on the western coast of Africa. This issue explores black colonization and Indiana’s part in the nationwide movement in the 19th century.
The Indiana Historian Magazine 2000
Review essay of 2 books: ‘The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America’ by Andres Resendez, and ‘An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846–1873’ by Benjamin Madley
Peter Nabokov, NY Review of Books 2016
The time when African-Americans were publicly hanged, burned and dismembered for insisting on their rights or for merely talking back to whites is nearer in history than many Americans understand. The horror of these crimes still weighs heavily on black communities in the South, where lynching memories are often vivid. The anguish is made worse by the realization that some of the killers are still alive and may never be prosecuted.
Editorial Board, NY Times 2016
In the summer of 1860, half a century after the United States banned the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Capt. William Foster sneaked 110 African slaves into Mobile, Ala. — and knew that the floating evidence of the illegal deed could get him killed. The Clotilda, the ship that made the months-long journey, held the telltale signs that it was an illegal slaver: containers for water and food, and the lingering stench of urine and feces and vomit and blood.
Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post 2018
Jane Lawrence documents the forced sterilization of thousands of Native American women by the Indian Health Service in the 1960s and 1970s. (Brief article, with a link to a paper.)
Jane Lawrence, JSTOR Daily 2016
A year after white-supremacist violence broke out in the university town, UVA grapples with a centuries-old legacy of slavery and racial discrimination.
Adam Harris, Atlantic 2018
An Oklahoma lawyer details the attack by hundreds of whites on the thriving black neighborhood where hundreds died 95 years ago
Allison Keyes, Smithsonian 2016