I am an historian of twentieth century American History, centering on Black protest movements and protest thought, Black cultural politics, Black social institutions and public spheres, gender and Black masculinity, and ideas of race and revolution in the Black Diaspora. It was profound experiences as a student activist, researcher for the Ohio Historical Society illuminating histories of the state’s Underground Railroad, co-founder and leader of a mentoring program for young Black men, and intern for then US Senator Barack Obama, that have led me to questions concerning Black protest, Black masculinity, Black politics and citizenship.
My book, Let Us Make Men: The Twentieth-Century Black Press and a Manly Vision for Racial Advancement (UNC Press, 2018) engages these questions. It argues that the twentieth-century black press was a tool of black men's leadership, public voice, and gender and identity formation. Analyzing the construction of Black masculinity within the Chicago Defender, Crisis, Negro World, Crusader, and Muhammad Speaks, the book shows that Black male newspaper publishers used their platforms to wage a fight for racial justice and black manhood. Research for the book was supported by the Postdoctoral Fellowship in Race and Gender History at Rutgers University. The book is available at: https://www.uncpress.org/book/9781469643397/let-us-make-men/
Yet this academic work has also enriched my creative projects, including “The [Ferguson] Files: A Sonic Study of Racial Violence in America."
Like the scholarly tradition in which I write, my research interests have never been merely academic, confined to just a text or the classroom. While an Associate Professor of History at Hunter College, CUNY, my being a Black historian, living at this particular historical moment in which Black people’s fights for justice and freedom continue, demands that I work to create knowledge that engages text, the classroom, and beyond.