Powerful, multidisciplinary engagement with the history of Savannah, Georgia, created by Clara Miller, Macalester College, Spring 2022.
With new headlines emphasizing 1 million deaths in the US, everyone should take a look at this chart showing the actual data about those deaths.
What do you see?
What do you think?
What do you wonder?
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.
An elementary education resource for decolonizing government and society.
This important graphic novel is an example of how leaders can shape a society that respects Indigenous culture, while incorporating connections to western traditions. On a local scale, it preserves Maori culture and authority by giving clear instruction and ancient knowledge to newcomers from Europe. Across regions, this text presents ways to teach young people to embrace indigenous languages and concepts so that they can learn to preserve and expand ancient traditions in their own home regions.
Beyond Afrofuturism, this graphic novel offers a way to transform the foundations of western habitus to promote the kind of dignity and autonomy that was nearly destroyed over the last five centuries.
Nikole Hannah-Jones is the most important journalist in the history of the New York Times. She has transformed her field in ways that place her among the most important journalists in world history.
I offer this perspective as someone whose work recovered the legacy of one of the world’s greatest journalists – T. Thomas Fortune. Fortune’s journalism and poetry carried the legacy of Frederick Douglass, while establishing platforms for Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Marcus Garvey. His ideas nourished the first generation of civil rights activists after the Reconstruction period and inspired the voices of the Harlem Renaissance.
Hannah-Jones matches this powerful contribution by creating platforms for a new generation of writers and artists in the tradition of the Black Speculative Arts, while enshrining the legacies of Black Arts Movement scholars and Hip Hop innovators over the last forty years.
Hearing the criticisms of older historians committed to celebratory ideologies of liberty, while constantly ignoring the work of Black scholars, Hannah-Jones rose to the challenge in the introduction to her new book. She engaged multiple strands of historiography, showcasing the variety of historical writing on the topic of enslavement and the American Revolution. Though she omits the amazing saga of Colonel Tye between 1775 and 1777 and much of the emerging scholarship on the economic importance of enslavement in New England and the Mid-Atlantic (available now at the Northeast Regional Slavery Index),
she re-asserts the body of evidence to support the project’s claim about the importance of enslavement in the eighteenth century British North American colonies and the early emergent years of the American republic. It is an unparalleled contribution to journalism. More importantly, it provides an enduring bridge between social history and the mass media that enables the nation, and democracies worldwide, to deny the advances of authoritarianism that have emerged over the last thirty years.
The voices in the body of text deserve ongoing engagement in the months and years ahead by writers and scholars from every tradition. Indeed, this new book gives readers a chance to imagine new ways to read, learn, write, and communicate. However, it is the Acknowledgements section that carries a powerful lesson for further exploration. Andre Carrington opens the door to this concept in his book, Speculative Blackness. In it, he argues for the power of the audience to find meaning beyond an author’s intent. A classic note in the tradition of literary analysis, Carrington brings this insight to the forefront of understanding the Black Speculative Arts, emphasizing the power of an audience’s imagination. Hannah-Jones goes further in the new version of the 1619 Project – she thanks the scholars, writers, and editors who directly impacted the production and development of the work between 2019 and 2021. She thanks her collaborators, her friends, her partner, and her daughter.
Then, she takes a moment to thank her audience of educators – the nameless and unnamed. Years ago, in an online conversation with Abdul Alkalimat during the first months of the H-Afro-Am platform, I suggested that Black scholars should share more of their ideas, methods, and bodies of evidence to accelerate the processes of liberation. Other participants scolded me, making arguments for individual intellectual property and copyright protections. I replied that I had too many ideas to try to own all of them and that I would always be grateful when someone found an idea I offered a worthwhile pursuit of their own. The simple existence of the good idea in a public forum – with the chance to end white supremacy – is enough for me. Since 2007, I have launched dozens (maybe hundreds) of these projects, including the astonishing collaborative platforms of the African American Intellectual History Society and the Urban History Association. I am most proud of Nikole Hannah-Jones and the 1619 Project – an initiative I amplified from its first public mention and organized national support to expand its audience from the moment that its release date was announced. Hannah-Jones was the first person I mentioned as a speaker for the Social Justice Academy I created in New Jersey. She will always be one of my top recommendations for future projects and initiatives – especially her new network, The 19th.
In my life, I am often proud to be one of the unnamed resources that supports a world rooted in justice and equity. I have never been more proud to be one of the nameless educators that stand alongside Hannah-Jones’ family and the infinite body of ancestors who made the 1619 Project possible.