Where do white nationalists and insurrectionists gather to build their campaigns against equal justice for all people? The rural corridor in NJ (Ocean, Burlington, and Monmouth Counties) is one example among thousands in the United States. This resource showcases the ways this culture took root. Thankfully, it also features a few examples of how history can work to break these traditions.
Historians like Clement Alexander Price and Giles Wright built a foundation for understanding the African American experience in New Jersey. Recently, Richard Veit and Graham Russell Hodges have added important perspectives and evidence to these traditions. Suburban Erasure and The Path to Freedom opened the doors to new vitality in New Jersey Studies. Young leaders like Nichole Nelson, Hettie Williams, and Melissa Ziobro use this bounty to build bridges to a new generation of scholars. At its heart, this work must dismantle the traditions of white nationalism, especially in American and European institutions.
My career of research and activism provides a strong model for the future. Villanova University’s Strategic Plan for Cultural Diversity transformed its commitment to justice and equity. Temple University’s contributions to the National Dialogue on Race, in conjunction with the UJIMA Collective, transformed regional governance in Philadelphia. The emergence of the First Suburbs coalition in Pennsylvania created the infrastructure for the world economy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 as well as the BIB and BBB legislation under the Biden Administration this year.
For a decade, these projects energized the emergence of the new histories of capitalism and the global movement towards Afrofuturism, generating the foundation for Ibram Kendi’s anti-racist research, Keisha Blain’s approach to Black internationalism, William Darity’s data on reparations, Spike Lee’s BlackKklansman, Paige Glotzer’s history of racial segregation, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, Marcia Chatelain’s analysis of Black businesses, and the virtual core of Academic Twitter.
All of these projects provide ways to challenge the traditions of white nationalism highlighted in To Preserve and Protect. This rare resource marks a transition from the limitations of the twentieth century to expansive, new frameworks in the twenty-first.