African American History Seminar

This series is co-sponsored by the College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

 

The African American History Seminar at the MHS is an occasion for scholars as well as interested members of the public to discuss aspects of African American history from the colonial era to the present day. Now in its second year, this program meets a need that other local discussion series do not address, by focusing on historical scholarship and specifically the African American past.

 

Most seminar meetings revolve around the discussion of a pre-circulated paper. Sessions open with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor. Each session is followed by a reception with light refreshments.

 

Attendance is free and open to everyone. Subscribers who remit $25 for the year will receive early online access to any pre-circulated materials. Subscriptions also underwrite the cost of the series. Pre-circulated materials will be available to non-subscribers who have RSVP’d for a session on the day prior to the program. Subscribe to this seminar series and you will receive access to the seminar papers for SIX series: the Boston Seminar on African American History, the Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar, the Boston Seminar on Environmental History, the Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality, the Boston Seminar on Modern American Society and Culture, and our new Seminar on Digital History. We recognize that topics frequently resonate across these four fields; now, mix and match the seminars that you attend!

Join the mailing list today by emailing seminars@masshist.org.

Join us for an in-depth exploration of the latest scholarship.Subscribe

November 2020
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/banner_draft_2.jpg African American History Seminar Success to the Literary Society! Black Male Youth Organizing in Early Nineteenth-Century Boston 5 November 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program Kabria Baumgartner, University of New Hampshire, Durham Comment: Elizabeth McHenry, New York University In 1841, a dozen or so African American male youth aged twelve to sixteen established the Young ...

In 1841, a dozen or so African American male youth aged twelve to sixteen established the Young Men’s Literary Society in Boston with the stated aim to promote intellectual growth. The very success of this endeavor laid bare the severe educational inequalities and inequities that African American youth faced in Boston’s public schools. In response, these youth organized for change. This paper traces their organizing efforts and describes how their skills in composition, penmanship, elocution, and the literary arts set the stage for the “overthrow of caste schools” in Boston in 1855.

The African American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
December 2020
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/banner_draft_2.jpg African American History Seminar Emancipation In America, Seen Through One Man's Dreadlocks 3 December 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program Abigail Cooper, Brandeis University Comment: Kellie Carter Jackson, Wellesley College 1864. A ship leaves its New England port carrying a USCT regiment to fight Confederates on the ...

1864. A ship leaves its New England port carrying a USCT regiment to fight Confederates on the Louisiana front. But on the way, a showdown takes place when Pvt. John Green refuses his commanding officer's order to cut his hair, protesting that it was contrary to his religion. In the events that follow, a revealing picture of black self-assertion in the making of freedom emerges, one too often hidden by a Civil War master narrative. This paper tells John Green's story, and asks how we might look at emancipation differently when we view it through his dreadlocks.

The African American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
January 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/AAH_banner_immage.jpg African American History Seminar Revolutionary Weddings: Marriage in the Black Panther Party 21 January 2021.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program. Traci Parker, University of Massachusetts - Amherst Robyn Spencer, CUNY - Lehman College Revolutionary love and marriages in the Black Panther Party were powerful aspects of Black Power ...

Revolutionary love and marriages in the Black Panther Party were powerful aspects of Black Power politics. This paper argues that Panthers viewed Black romantic love as an act and a tool of revolution. They believed that, if African Americans embraced love and marriage, defining it and its parameters in ways that best suited individuals and race, they could reclaim, reimagine, and build strong Black families and communities, destabilize white supremacy, and realize Black liberation.

The African American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
March 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/AAH_banner_immage.jpg African American History Seminar From Jobs and Freedom to Jobs and Opportunity: Andrew Young, Growth, and the Illusion of Job Creation 4 March 2021.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online event. Author: Danielle Wiggins, California Institution of Technology Comment: Brenna Greer, Wellesley College This paper considers Atlanta mayor Andrew Young’s shifting ideas about job creation and ...

This paper considers Atlanta mayor Andrew Young’s shifting ideas about job creation and economic opportunity to investigate how Democrats abandoned their 1970s goal of full employment in favor of policies that promoted private sector job creation via economic growth in the 1980s. By conflating growth with opportunity, Andrew Young sought to stake a middle path between development interests and anti-poverty coalitions, between white and black voters, and between civil rights liberalism and supply-side liberalism. However, economic growth and its promise of opportunity proved to be an inadequate solution for the range of issues its proponents intended it to address.

The African American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
April 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/AAH_banner_immage.jpg African American History Seminar “Fighting the Dogs:” Fugitivity, Canine Hunters, and Slave Resistance in the Rural South 1 April 2021.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online event. Author: Tyler Parry, University of Nevada, Las Vegas Comment: Harriet Ritvo, MIT As slavery expanded in the Americas, canine attacks were used as a particularly sadistic aspect of ...

As slavery expanded in the Americas, canine attacks were used as a particularly sadistic aspect of racist dehumanization. Through linked processes of breeding and training, slave hunters believed they had developed “natural” enemies between black people and the canines trained to hunt them. This paper investigates how fugitives responded to this interspecies violence by using various techniques of environmental resistance outside the plantation’s confines. By analyzing how fugitives used herbal combinations, waterways, and offensive weapons to subvert the canine's sensory advantage, this paper argues that enslaved communities should be understood as knowledge producers who studied their environments and used scientific awareness in their resistance.

The African American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
African American History Seminar Success to the Literary Society! Black Male Youth Organizing in Early Nineteenth-Century Boston 5 November 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program Kabria Baumgartner, University of New Hampshire, Durham Comment: Elizabeth McHenry, New York University Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/banner_draft_2.jpg

In 1841, a dozen or so African American male youth aged twelve to sixteen established the Young Men’s Literary Society in Boston with the stated aim to promote intellectual growth. The very success of this endeavor laid bare the severe educational inequalities and inequities that African American youth faced in Boston’s public schools. In response, these youth organized for change. This paper traces their organizing efforts and describes how their skills in composition, penmanship, elocution, and the literary arts set the stage for the “overthrow of caste schools” in Boston in 1855.

The African American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close

African American History Seminar Emancipation In America, Seen Through One Man's Dreadlocks 3 December 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program Abigail Cooper, Brandeis University Comment: Kellie Carter Jackson, Wellesley College Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/banner_draft_2.jpg

1864. A ship leaves its New England port carrying a USCT regiment to fight Confederates on the Louisiana front. But on the way, a showdown takes place when Pvt. John Green refuses his commanding officer's order to cut his hair, protesting that it was contrary to his religion. In the events that follow, a revealing picture of black self-assertion in the making of freedom emerges, one too often hidden by a Civil War master narrative. This paper tells John Green's story, and asks how we might look at emancipation differently when we view it through his dreadlocks.

The African American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close

African American History Seminar Revolutionary Weddings: Marriage in the Black Panther Party 21 January 2021.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program. Traci Parker, University of Massachusetts - Amherst Robyn Spencer, CUNY - Lehman College Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/AAH_banner_immage.jpg

Revolutionary love and marriages in the Black Panther Party were powerful aspects of Black Power politics. This paper argues that Panthers viewed Black romantic love as an act and a tool of revolution. They believed that, if African Americans embraced love and marriage, defining it and its parameters in ways that best suited individuals and race, they could reclaim, reimagine, and build strong Black families and communities, destabilize white supremacy, and realize Black liberation.

The African American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close

African American History Seminar From Jobs and Freedom to Jobs and Opportunity: Andrew Young, Growth, and the Illusion of Job Creation Register registration required at no cost 4 March 2021.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online event. Author: Danielle Wiggins, California Institution of Technology Comment: Brenna Greer, Wellesley College Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/AAH_banner_immage.jpg

This paper considers Atlanta mayor Andrew Young’s shifting ideas about job creation and economic opportunity to investigate how Democrats abandoned their 1970s goal of full employment in favor of policies that promoted private sector job creation via economic growth in the 1980s. By conflating growth with opportunity, Andrew Young sought to stake a middle path between development interests and anti-poverty coalitions, between white and black voters, and between civil rights liberalism and supply-side liberalism. However, economic growth and its promise of opportunity proved to be an inadequate solution for the range of issues its proponents intended it to address.

The African American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close

African American History Seminar “Fighting the Dogs:” Fugitivity, Canine Hunters, and Slave Resistance in the Rural South Register registration required at no cost 1 April 2021.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online event. Author: Tyler Parry, University of Nevada, Las Vegas Comment: Harriet Ritvo, MIT Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/AAH_banner_immage.jpg

As slavery expanded in the Americas, canine attacks were used as a particularly sadistic aspect of racist dehumanization. Through linked processes of breeding and training, slave hunters believed they had developed “natural” enemies between black people and the canines trained to hunt them. This paper investigates how fugitives responded to this interspecies violence by using various techniques of environmental resistance outside the plantation’s confines. By analyzing how fugitives used herbal combinations, waterways, and offensive weapons to subvert the canine's sensory advantage, this paper argues that enslaved communities should be understood as knowledge producers who studied their environments and used scientific awareness in their resistance.

The African American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close