Online Forum: What is African American Intellectual History?

Dorothy Cotton teaching Citizenship Education Program class, 1966, (Bob Fitch Photography Collection, Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University)

June 10-14, 2019

Black Perspectivesthe award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), is hosting an online forum titled “What is African American Intellectual History? Methods, Concepts, and the Future of the Field.” This forum focuses on the central ideas and future directions of African American intellectual history as a field, methodology, and approach. Contributors explore topics such as racial geography, educational history, and the Black freedom struggle, while philosophizing intellectual history and surveying the diverse contributions of Black thinkers. They provide expansive definitions of African American intellectual history, confronting challenges and providing contemplations on the future of the field. Taken together, the essays demonstrate how and why African American intellectual history must be studied and how it can bolster our understandings of race and racism in both current and historical settings.

The forum will feature essays from Derrick P. Alridge (University of Virginia), Christopher Cameron (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)Celeste Day Moore (Hamilton College), La TaSha B. Levy (University of Washington), and Pero G. Dagbovie (Michigan State University).

The forum begins on Monday, June 10, 2019 and concludes on Friday, June 14, 2019. During the week of the online forum, Black Perspectives will publish a new blog post every day at 5:30AM EST. Please follow Black Perspectives (@BlkPerspectives) and AAIHS (@AAIHS) on Twitter, like AAIHS on Facebook, or subscribe to our blog for updates. By subscribing to Black Perspectives, each new post will automatically be delivered to your inbox during the week of the forum.

About the Organizer

Derrick P. Alridge is Professor of Educational History in the Curry School of Education and Human Development and an affiliate in the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. He also serves as Director of the Center for Race and Public Education in the South. Alridge’s research areas include African American educational and intellectual history and teachers in the civil rights movement. He is the author of The Educational Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: An Intellectual History (Teachers College Press, 2008) and co-editor, with James B. Stewart and V.P. Franklin, of Message in the Music: Hip-Hop, History, and Pedagogy (ASALH, 2011). Alridge is currently writing The Hip-Hop Mind: Ideas, History, and Social Consciousness (University of Wisconsin Press). He can be reached at, and follow him on Twitter @DerrickPAlridge.

About the Participants

Christopher Cameron is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His research and teaching interests are in African American and early American history, especially abolitionist thought, liberal religion, and secularism. His first book is entitled To Plead Our Own Cause: African Americans in Massachusetts and the Making of the Antislavery Movement (Kent State University Press, 2014). His upcoming book, Black Freethinkers: A History of African American Secularism (Northwestern University Press, 2019), explores African American humanism, agnosticism, and atheism from the late-18th century to the civil rights era. He has also served as the founding president of the African American Intellectual History Society. Follow him on Twitter @ccamrun2.

Celeste Day Moore is Assistant Professor of History at Hamilton College. She is currently completing her first book, Soundscapes of Liberation, which traces the history of African American music in the postwar Francophone world, where it took on new meaning, value, and political power alongside rising American power and the decolonization of the French empire. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris, and the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. In addition to a forthcoming essay on Ray Charles and the Algerian War in American Quarterly, her research on Black internationalism was included in the first edited volume of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). Follow her on Twitter at @celestedaymoore.

La TaSha B. Levy is Assistant Professor of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington. Her research interests include post-WWII African American political history, social movements, Black intellectual traditions, and intersectional racial discourse. She is completing a book that explores the dramatic shift in Black Republican politics from liberal to conservative during a period of heightened Black political consciousness and a burgeoning conservative movement in the U.S., from the late 1960s through the 1980s. Her research examines the diverse and conflicted strategies among Black Republicans to advance a Black empowerment agenda, underscoring the limitations of U.S. democracy and the two-party system. She teaches a range of African American Studies courses that span U.S. history and contemporary politics. Follow her on Twitter at @tashaspeaks.

Pero G. Dagbovie is University Distinguished Professor of History and Associate Dean in the Graduate School at Michigan State University. His research and teaching interests comprise a range of time periods, themes, and topical specialties, including Black intellectual history, the history of the Black historical enterprise, Black women’s history, Black life during “the nadir,” the civil rights-Black Power movement, African American Studies, hip hop culture, and contemporary Black history. His books include Black History: “Old School” Black Historians and the Hip Hop Generation (Bedford Publishers, 2006), The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene (University of Illinois Press, 2007), African American History Reconsidered (University of Illinois Press, 2010), Carter G. Woodson in Washington, D.C.: The Father of Black History (The History Press, 2014), and What is African American History? (Polity Press, 2015). He is the current Editor of The Journal of African American History.

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