Keynote Speaker: Earl Lewis

Thursday, January 19, 2023
6:00 PM
Convocation Hall
Event Type
Lectures & Readings
Kathleen Solomon

 "Our Violent Past: Unfree Labor, Terrorism, and the Search for Repair", Convocation Hall at The University of the South (open to the public)

In recent years, public media and politicians have renewed the focus on the search for reparations for African American descendants of enslavement. Whether we are exploring slavery, post emancipation, Jim Crow or mass incarceration, it is impossible to ignore the through-line of violence or racial terrorism. Without the benefits of land, tools, cash or other commercial resources, the only thing free men and women had to trade after the Civil War was their labor. This meant they expected treatment as market equals, with the right to negotiate their wages, regulate the contributions of household labor, and share in the profits their labor produced. Almost as immediately, agents of White hegemony asserted a different understanding, one that maintained the subordination of Black workers and underscored the supremacy of Whites in negotiating the limits of freedom. This talk focuses on the role White violence or terror played in shaping the contours of freedom and explains why its appearance injured any hopes of racial repair, even as it shaped the ways African Americans wrote themselves into history.

Earl Lewis
About Earl Lewis
Earl Lewis (University of Michigan) is a noted social historian, award-winning author, educational leader, and founding director of the University of Michigan Center for Social Solutions and the Thomas C. Holt distinguished University Professor of History, Afroamerican and African Studies, and public policy.
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