The Communist Party USA published my reading/presentation of an essay I wrote on the Black Church for African American History Month. This is an early part of my research addressing the shift of Black folk from religion to atheism, and the Black class struggle. “What was once called the Negro church in the course of the struggle for equality has emerged as a major force advocating, equality, democracy and social change. How did the transition from the Negro church to the black church take place; what were the class and social forces that helped shape it; how did these issues relate to the broader society issues in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th century?
This NY Times article is worth a read. It notes,”Communists believed that organizing the working class would work only if white workers realized that their liberation, too, was bound up with the fate of black workers. Facing this threat, anti-Communists and segregationists worked hard to sustain the fractures. They blamed Communists for fomenting “race mixing,” evoking sexualized fears that social equality would mean black men having sex with white women….The party inspired loyalty for reasons beyond simply an affinity for Marxist ideas. It was the campaigns Communists ran against police brutality, the practice of lynching and the Jim Crow laws that made their politics relevant to the lives of ordinary people.”
You can read it in its entirety here.
A few months ago the American Historical Association (AHA) interviewed me. It was fun because it forced me to pause and think about my past, present, and future endeavors. I noted that, “…I sought to study history and literature in a normative fashion to challenge both my peers and colleagues to take action and avoid the sins of complacency and gradualism….[History] guides my morality; I get to have a job that demands I read, reflect, and ponder the sins and immoral actions of human beings.”
You can read it in its entirety here.
Not too long out of graduate school, I met Jaime Rollans on a grant project that explored race, AP courses, etc,. Jaime is a noted scholar, nationally recognized authority with the College Board, and one who engaged others in her work and publications on matters related to art history and historical thinking skills. I can recall our dinners, the conferences we traveled to, and how we split bottles of wine when dining out. She offered me jobs for which I regret not taking. She is what I want to be: a scholar, a pronounced history teacher, and an amazing human being. I am so far from her; I have yet to meet a teacher like her. Yes — I want to be her. After learning that she elected to retire — I have felt a great sense of joy, but real sadness. Though we worked on projects and sat on panels in my early days, I cannot help but wonder what it would have meant for me to work in her department. To learn from her. At one point we talked about an all star history department. Wow!!! I love you Jaime and talk about you a great deal. I want to be you. I am trying. Thanks for being the only academic mentor I ever had. 25 year-old me seated by Jaime (3rd from left) on a panel in L.A. You are an amazing historian, teacher, mentor, and friend.
As part of a community narrative through portraits — conducted by an amazing graduating student, she reflects a number of narratives in the pictures she took. She lined Main Street with over 100 of them, where folks shared an unknown thing about themselves. I stated that I survived a brain aneurysm due to a benign brain tumor. My image reflects what W.E.B. Du Bois once stated — the problem of the [21st] century is mass incarceration of Black and Brown people. Hence, our color line matter is due, in part, to the New Jim Crow.
I am with Mom as she drove me eight hours to college, then stuck around and helped me unpack and get settled. 18 year-old me.