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Friday, May 2008:35 - 10:20 AM

Session 1

Who Is Black America?

Part 1

Part 2

This session on class and diversity within black America will use a historical perspective to examine changes to the meaning of “black” culture. An understanding of the forces that enabled a diverse community to act together in the past will help to consider whether twenty-first century black diversity could fracture the cohesion that allowed black America to fight so effectively for rights. 


Ira Berlin photo

Ira Berlin

University of Maryland


Elsa Barkley Brown photo

Elsa Barkley Brown

University of Maryland

Tiya Miles photo

Tiya Miles

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Dylan C. Penningroth photo

Dylan C. Penningroth

University of California, Berkeley

Deborah Gray White photo

Deborah Gray White

Rutgers University, New Brunswick


Allyson Hobbs photo

Allyson Hobbs

Stanford University

Jonathan Holloway photo

Jonathan Holloway

Yale University

Session Time Slot(s)

05/20/2016 - 08:35-05/20/2016 - 10:20

Session Blog

“Who Is Black America?”: Historians Wrestle with the Complexities of Defining Blackness

“God wills us free, man wills us slave. I will as God wills, God’s will be done.” I begin my reflection of the first session of the Future of the African American Past with the opening lines on a headstone in a Concord, Massachusetts, cemetery. This epitaph, written by a British loyalist on the eve of the American Revolution, is in regards to John Jack, a black man born free in Africa but enslaved in Colonial New England.

Read Conference Papers for this Session