Online Roundtable: Robert T. Chase’s ‘We Are Not Slaves’

January 11-15, 2020

Black Perspectivesthe award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), is collaborating with the Journal of Civil and Human Rights (JCHR)** to host a roundtable on Robert T. Chase’s We Are Not Slaves: State Violence, Coerced Labor, and Prisoners’ Rights in Postwar America (University of North Carolina Press, 2020). The roundtable begins on Monday, January 11, 2020 and concludes on Friday, January 15, 2020. It will feature pieces from Dan Berger (University of Washington Bothell), Charlene J. Fletcher (Brown University), Cheryl D. Hicks (University of Delaware), Amanda Hughett (University of Illinois Springfield), Shannon King (Fairfield University), and Timothy Stewart-Winter (Rutgers University – Newark). At the conclusion of the roundtable, the author Robert T. Chase (Stonybrook University) will respond. On Friday at 12noon EST, Dr. Chase will join Talitha L. LeFlouria (University of Virginia) for a lunchtime discussion about the book (click here to register).

During the week of the online roundtable, Black Perspectives will publish new blog posts every day at 5:30AM EST. Please follow Black Perspectives (@BlkPerspectives) and AAIHS (@AAIHSon 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 roundtable.

About the Author

Robert T. Chase is associate professor of history at Stony Brook University, State University of New York (SUNY).  He is the author of We Are Not Slaves: State Violence, Coerced Labor, and Prisoners Rights in Postwar America (UNC, 2020).  He is also the editor of Caging Borders and Carceral States: Incarcerations, Immigration Detentions, and Resistance (UNC Press, 2019). His work has been published in the Journal of Urban History, the Journal of American History, and a chapter in the anthology The New, New South (University Press of Florida, 2012). At Stony Brook University, he organized the 2015 conference “From the Color Line to the Carceral State: Prisons, Policing, and Surveillance.”  At the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, he was the organizer of the national conference “The Fire Every Time: Reframing Black Power Across the Twentieth Century and Beyond.”  He is the recipient of the E.B. and Jean Smith prize for best dissertation in political history and his research has been funded through postdoctoral fellowships with Southern Methodist University’s Clements Center, Case Western Reserve University, and Rutgers University.  In 2017, he was a research fellow at the Humanities Institute at the University of Connecticut.  Currently, Chase is also the co-director of the national organization Historians Against Slavery (HAS).  As a public intellectual, his work on the history of prison and policing reform and state violence has been featured on national media programs through radio, newspapers, and television (MSNBC, CNN, and NPR, Newsweek, Washington Post).

About the Participants

Dan Berger is associate professor of comparative ethnic studies at the University of Washington Bothell. His books include include Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era, which won the 2015 James A. Rawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians; Rethinking the American Prison Movement, coauthored with Toussaint Losier; and Remaking Radicalism: A Grassroots Documentary Reader of the United States, 1973-2001, coedited with Emily Hobson. Additionally, he curates the Washington Prison History Project, which is a multimedia digital archive of prison organizing and policy in the Pacific Northwest. He is currently writing Stayed on Freedom: One Family’s Journey in the Black Freedom Struggle, a biography of Black Power organizing at the grassroots, which will published by Basic Books. Follow him on Twitter @dnbrgr.

Charlene J. Fletcher is the Emerging Voices Postdoctoral Research Associate in Slavery and Justice at Brown University and holds a Ph.D. in History from Indiana University. Prior to attending IU, Charlene led a domestic violence/sexual assault program as well as a large reentry initiative in New York City, assisting women and men in their transition from incarceration to society and served as a lecturer of Criminal Justice at LaGuardia Community College. Charlene’s research and forthcoming book explores the experiences of confined African-American women in Kentucky from Reconstruction to the Progressive Era, specifically illuminating the lives of confined Black women by examining places other than carceral locales as arenas of confinement, including mental health institutions and domestic spaces. She seeks to explore how these women both defied and defined confinement through their incarceration, interactions with public, social, and political entities of the period, as well as how they challenged ideas of race and femininity. Charlene’s work is motivated by her personal and professional experiences — particularly her work with individuals and families impacted by domestic violence and incarceration—and these experiences continue to fuel her passion for her work today. Follow her on Twitter @ochosidaughter.

Cheryl D. Hicks is an Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History at the University of Delaware. Her research addresses the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and the law. She has published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Journal of the History of Sexuality, and the Journal of African American History. Her first book, Talk With You Like a Woman: African American Women, Justice, and Reform in New York, 1890-1935 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) received the 2011 Letitia Woods Brown Book Award from the Association of Black Women Historians. Follow her on Twitter @CherylDHicks1.

Amanda Hughett is an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she focuses on law, social movements, and criminal justice policy. She holds a Ph.D. is history from Duke University. Prior to arriving at UIS, she was a postdoctoral fellow at SUNY-Buffalo’s Baldy Center for Law & Social Policy and a Law and Social Sciences Doctoral Fellow at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago. Her first book, tentatively titled Silencing the Cell Block: The Making of Modern Prison Policy in North Carolina and the Nation, examines how civil liberties lawyers and public officials reshaped prison policy in response to imprisoned people’s efforts to unionize during the 1970s. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Law and Society Association, the American Society for Legal History, the Gerald Ford Presidential Library, and the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, among others. Follow her on Twitter @abhughett.

Shannon King is an Associate Professor of History and Black Studies at Fairfield University. His work has appeared in the Journal of Urban History, Reviews in American History, The American Historian, and in multiple collections on the New Negro era, Black freedom struggles outside the South, and the Black Lives Matter Movement. He is the author of Whose Harlem Is This, Anyway?: Community Politics and Grassroots Activism during the New Negro era (New York University Press, 2015), which won the National Council for Black Studies Anna Julia Cooper/CLR James Award for outstanding book in Africana Studies. He is currently working on a new manuscript on race, crime, and punishment, Policing the Crisis: Black Protest in Gotham City during the La Guardia Era. Follow him on Twitter @KingShannon23.

Timothy Stewart-Winter is a historian of  sexuality, gender, and modern US politics. His first book, Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics (Penn, 2016; paperback, August 2017), was awarded the 2017 John Boswell Prize by the Committee on LGBT History. He is now working on a book about Walter Jenkins, a longtime aide to Lyndon B. Johnson who resigned from the White House staff in 1964 after being arrested on disorderly conduct charges. He co-directs the Queer Newark Oral History Project. Stewart-Winter’s work has appeared in the Journal of American History, the Journal of Urban HistoryGender & History, and the Journal of the History of Sexuality. He also writes regularly about LGBTQ politics and history for a wider audience, including op-eds in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Star-Ledger (N.J.), and commentaries in Dissent and Slate. He has appeared on “All Things Considered” (NPR), and was interviewed about Queer Clout on “Chicago Tonight” (WTTW television) and “Morning Drive” (WBEZ radio). Stewart-Winter received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago and his B.A. in history from Swarthmore College. In 2017-2018, he was a fellow of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. Follow him on Twitter @timothysw.

Lunchtime Book Talk: Friday, January 15th

At 12:00PM Eastern, AAIHS will host a book talk with Robert T. Chase and Talitha L. LeFlouriaClick here to register. 

Talitha L. LeFlouria is the Lisa Smith Discovery Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies at the University of Virginia and author of Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South (University of North Carolina Press, 2015). This book received several national awards including: the Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians (2016), the Philip Taft Labor History Award from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations & Labor and Working-Class History Association (2016), the Malcolm Bell, Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell Award from the Georgia Historical Society (2016), the Best First Book Prize from the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders, and Sexualities (2015), the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize from the Association of Black Women Historians (2015), and the Ida B. Wells Tribute Award from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (2015). Dr. LeFlouria is a scholar of African American history and a specialist on black women, mass incarceration, and the legacies of American slavery. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, The Root, and Vox. She has made appearances on NPR, C-SPAN, and in several PBS documentaries including the Sundance Award nominated film Slavery by Another Name. Dr. LeFlouria has received several prestigious awards for her research, including a 2018-2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Historians Against Slavery. Follow her on Twitter @TLeFlouria.

**The Journal of Civil and Human Rights is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary, academic journal dedicated to studying modern U.S.-based social justice movements and freedom struggles, including transnational ones, and their antecedents, influence, and legacies. The journal features an editor’s note, research-based articles, interviews, editorials, state-of-the-field pieces, and book forums.

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