Episode for January 30, 2023
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I am a writer and historian who studies what happened to African American survivors of racist violence.
I’m from West Michigan, by way of Illinois, Arkansas, Mississippi, and South Carolina. I live and work in Detroit.
My new book, I Saw Death Coming: A History of Terror and Survival in the War against Reconstruction (Jan 2023 and available for pre-order Bookshop; Barnes and Noble; Indiebound; Books A Million!; Source Booksellers; Detroit Book City; Pages Book Shop; and Amazon), tells the story of what African American families gained at emancipation and then lost to white terror after the Civil War. My first book, They Left Great Marks on Me, explored Black people’s personal testimonies of violence and their role in mobilizing civil rights advocates to fight lynching and other forms of white supremacist oppression. I am one of the co-editors of Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence, a collection of readings that provided historical context for understanding the 2015 massacre of nine African Americans at Charleston’s Emanuel A.M.E. Church.
My writings have appeared in DAME magazine, Slate, The American Historian, and the New York Times. I have appeared on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “On Point,” “BackStory with the American History Guys,” and on WDET’s “Detroit Today.”
My interest in producing stories of African American history that reach academic and lay audiences has grown in recent years and been rewarded. I was one of the co-developers of #CharlestonSyllabus. I’ve had the great fortune of contributing to podcasts and to documentaries, both behind the scenes like on TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?”: Regina King and up front with PBS’s Reconstruction: America after the Civil War. I’m the host and co-producer of ‘Seizing Freedom’ a Kelly Hardcastle Jones created podcast docudrama about African Americans’ fight for liberty and equality during and after the Civil War.
When I am not working, I’m minding my business and indulging my love of fiction, photography, podcasts, and streaming international TV shows while also taking advantage of the many perks of living and playing in Detroit.