Stanford historian re-examines practice of racial 'passing'Historians in the News
tags: African American history
Dr. Albert Johnston grew up in Chicago, attended the University of Chicago Medical School in the 1920s, and went on to become a radiologist in a small town in New Hampshire. He and his wife were black – a fact they initially hid so that Johnston could secure an internship – and for 20 years, they kept this secret from their neighbors, and even their children.
After the United States entered World War II, Johnston effectively "outed" himself by applying for the Navy. He was rejected because of his racial background, and word of his mixed-race roots spread. What motivated Johnston to sacrifice his social status and job security? Was it wartime patriotism, or something else: a desire to have the truth out in the open?
Questions like these have motivated the latest research project of Stanford history Professor Allyson Hobbs. The Johnstons' story is one of the many instances of racial "passing" – the practice in which light-skinned African Americans chose to present themselves as white – that Hobbs profiles in her upcoming book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing (Harvard University Press, 2014)....
comments powered by Disqus
- Miami’s Watergate mystery man at heart of newly revealed CIA report
- The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age
- ‘No Vacancies’ for Blacks: How Donald Trump Got His Start, and Was First Accused of Bias
- New Yorker profiles activist who's drawing attention to lynchings
- Wisconsin GOP senator wants to replace history professors with Ken Burns videos
- OAH President Nancy Cott says the Library of Congress is being politicized
- NYT publishes historians' plea for the revival of political history
- Some Ohio University professors ditch the textbooks, and the prices
- Renowned Israeli Holocaust Historian: ‘If I Were a British Jew, I’d Be Worried’
- Heather Ann Thompson pries loose the long-kept secrets of Attica in her new book