The People v. Ossian Sweet

The Promise and Threat of Black Detroit in the Age of the Great Migration

In the first decades of the twentieth century, no northern city drew more southern migrants than Detroit, ‘City of Tomorrow’.[i] As one Free Press reporter noted in 1917, ‘Detroit’s unexampled prosperity is the lodestone that is attracting thousands of Negroes’.[ii] Between 1910 and 1920, Detroit’s Black population increased almost eightfold,… Continue reading

Book Review: Doris Derby: A Civil Rights Journey by Doris Derby

Sharecroppers labouring in Mississippi fields. African American women organising cooperatives to support their communities. Members of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The Free Southern Theatre, and the potential for theatre to be a catalyst for change. The centrality of Farish Street to Black life in Jackson, Mississippi. Medical clinics. Schools. Liberty House cooperative. Woodstock. Churches. Houses. Murals. Shootings. Funerals. Speeches. Families. Continue reading

Essentialism and the Revival of Black Power: Re-inventing American Integrationist Discourse

On July 24 2015, around 500 advocacy groups representing African American communities from all over the country met in a three-day conference at Cleveland State University to deliberate on the creation of a unified political front. Outside the conference facilities, demonstrators shouted slogans decrying what they perceived as deliberate institutional… Continue reading

Faith-healer parents, child brides, and 12-year-old Tobacco pickers

The United States is a failing state when it comes to children’s rights

The day before President Joseph R. Biden’s inauguration, the National Children’s campaign held a virtual children’s inauguration. Speakers included politicians, such as Massachusetts senator Ed Markey (D), and young activists themselves, several of whom called for the creation of a ‘White House office for kids’, arguing that the political establishment… Continue reading

Review: HOTCUS Work-in-Progress Meeting 2019

Review: HOTCUS Work-in-Progress Meeting 2019, University of Oxford, 17 October 2019. At the second annual work-in-progress session, two developing articles were discussed: Liam O’Brien’s (University of Cork) paper, ‘Winning Back the Peace: The George H.W. Bush Administration and the Creation of Operation Southern Watch, 1992’ and Dr. Meghan Hunt’s (University… Continue reading

Social Disorder: Publics, 1968, Amateur photography and Vivian Maier

This essay is the fourth in our series, ‘Literature, Visual Imagery and Material Culture in American Studies’. The series seeks to situate literature, visual imagery and material culture at the heart of American studies, and will explore the varying ways in which written and non-written sources have been created, politicised, exploited, and celebrated by the diverse peoples of the United States and beyond. You can find out more information here. Continue reading

The Southern Student Organizing Committee and the White New Left

The New Left, traditionally defined, involved white students from middle-class backgrounds in northeastern and West Coast hotbeds protesting societal constructs in the 1960s. Most accounts detail foundational connections between white New Leftists and earlier civil rights protest, such as Freedom Summer and the University of California – Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement in 1964, when project participants came back to campus in the fall after grassroots organising in Mississippi. Considering the largely overlooked white southern radicals complicates this bi-coastal narrative. The emergence of the southern New Left is especially apparent in the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC), often viewed as the Students for a Democratic Society’s (SDS) southern counterpart. Continue reading

Book Review: James and Esther Cooper Jackson: Love and Courage in the Black Freedom Movement by Sarah Rzeszutek Haviland

In this dual biography, Sarah Haviland traces the political and intellectual career of activist couple James and Esther Cooper Jackson. Utilising a combination of personally-conducted oral history interviews and archival material, she argues that an analysis of the couple demonstrates that communist-affiliated activists of the 1930s Popular Front era were able to adapt their activism and influence the trajectory of the modern civil rights movement that emerged in the 1960s. Continue reading

Veiled Interpretations of Du Bois’s ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ (1903)

Du Bois’s work The Souls of Black Folk (1903) attempts to capture the quintessential twentieth century problem “of the color-line” (713), that is the problem of racial belonging and identification. In these terms, Du Bois cautiously steps within the “Veil” of his racial segregation, a capitalized term he coins to help readers visualize the obscure barrier that separates the two worlds, and attempts to decipher the subliminal fluctuations of a blackness vastly treated as a flaw. This is the exact point which Du Bois delves into in order to staple together multiple thematic concerns. Continue reading

Book Review: Awakening: How Gays and Lesbians Brought Marriage Equality to America by Nathaniel Frank

In this book Nathanial Frank traces how marriage became a key debate of the culture wars in the late twentieth, and early twenty-first, centuries. He explores the conflicts within the gay rights movement, conservative resistance, and changing public attitudes towards marriage equality in the United States. Continue reading