• William Still Preserved the Black History of Abolition at a Time of Danger

    by Julia W. Bernier

    After emancipation, the meticulous records William Still kept about the fellow Black people he helped to reach freedom became a tool in a different struggle: to fight against the erasure of Black humanity and power by proponents of Jim Crow and the Lost Cause. 

  • Review: Reevaluating the Grimke Sisters and White Abolitionism

    by Drew Gilpin Faust

    Kerri Greenidge's new history of the Grimke family of South Carolina shows that, while sisters Sarah and Angelina left the south to advocate abolition and feminism, the institution of slavery compromised all white people connected to it. 

  • William Still: Forgotten Father of the Underground Railroad

    by Andrew Diemer

    William Still died in 1902 as one of the most famous and well-respected Black men in America. But since, the quiet nature of his work and his preference to preserve the stories of the individuals he helped to find freedom have diminished his standing among abolitionist heroes. 

  • The Unbearable Whiteness of Ken Burns

    by Timothy Messer-Kruse

    In the context of today's battles over teaching the history of racism in America, the new Franklin documentary unfortunately uses its subject to spin a narrative of national self-correction that ignores historians' attention to conflict and struggle. 

  • An American Conception of Justice

    by Michael Kazin

    While historians have demonstrated the racist operation of American institutions, it's important to recognize that those institutions have also been instruments for justice. 

  • Today It’s Critical Race Theory. 200 Years Ago It Was Abolitionist Literature

    In 1829, South Carolina and Georgia responded to a series of fires they assumed were set by enslaved people by banning both the abolitionist literature they blamed for inciting rebellion and the teaching of literacy to slaves. Today's battles over curriculum are likewise about ideas deemed threatening to social hierarchies.

  • Manipulating Frederick Douglass and His Historical Record

    by Kevin M. Levin

    Frederick Douglass intended his portraits as visual representations of freedom, autonomy and dignity. The author wonders if it's appropriate to take the liberty of indulging in the trendy photo animation technology with the portraits of historical figures. 

  • It's Time to Stop Calling Slavery America's 'Original Sin'

    by James Goodman

    The theological origins of "original sin" mean that the metaphor portrays slavery, racism, and the dispossession of Native American lands as evils foisted upon Americans, rather than as social and political products of choices made by them. 

  • A Forgotten Black Founding Father

    by Danielle Allen

    The figure of Black abolitionist Prince Hall has been discussed for his advocacy for abolition in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but there remains a deeper work of historical reconstruction to understand his connections to family, community and civil society in the founding era. 

  • Wishbone of The Good Lord Bird

    by Mark Lause

    "In the end, The Good Lord Bird spins a worthwhile and entertaining yarn, but each episode starts with the unfortunate and misleading words: 'All of this is true.  Most of it happened'."