I am a professor of United States history at Howard University, where I’ve taught since 2003. From 2005 until 2009, I served as chair of the department. I started my career at Columbia University in New York City in 1993. In between, I served as Director of African American Studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
I research and write on American intellectual history, nationalism in the United States, and, currently, convict slavery since 1615. In 1998, I won the James Rawley Prize for the best book in Race Relations History for Contempt and Pity: Social Science and the Image of the Damaged Black Psyche, 1880-1996. For my views of black nationalism, see “How Black Nationalism Became Sui Generis,” and on how white supremacy is a nationalist ideology arising from the specter of black citizenship, see “White Supremacy and the Question of Black Citizenship in the Post-Emancipation South,” in Creating Citizenship in the American South. (See below for the link to my entire c.v.)
My joining the faculty at Howard also marked the beginning of my service as a member of the Executive Council of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). After my initial term, I was elected Vice President for Programs. I held that position for nine years. From 2013 to 2015, I served as the President of ASALH during its centennial celebration.
Among my accomplishments while serving on the ASALH board were redesigning the annual meeting, establishing and directing the ASALH Press, editing The Woodson Review: ASALH’s Theme Magazine, co-founding and editing Fire!!!: the Multimedia Journal of Black Studies, overseeing the redesign of the Black History Bulletin, and editing three volumes. In general, I handled the business arrangements for the organization’s publications, including the works once published by the Associated Publishers. In 2014, I negotiated an agreement with the Black Classics Press to republish the works of Carter G. Woodson to keep them before the public.
Working for ASALH for so long, I have become somewhat a historian of the Association and an expert of aspects of the life of Woodson. In 2005, I edited a version of The Mis-Education of the Negro. That same year, I discovered and edited a lost manuscript by him, which ASALH published in 2008 as Carter G. Woodson’s Appeal, which served as a major fund-raiser. It was released in paperback in 2014.
Educationally, I am largely a product of Catholic education. In Chicago, I attended Corpus Christi grammar school and Hales Franciscan High School, but I elected to leave rather than graduate from the latter. Instead, I matriculated at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. After a stint in the United States Army as a volunteer, I returned to college at Marquette University in Wisconsin, in 1984. Afterwards, I attended Stanford University, where I took my doctorate in United States History in 1994. I studied under Carl N. Degler, who served as my adviser, and George M. Fredrickson.
I am originally from Chicago, where grew up just north of Washington Park in the 1960s. I have made my home in Prince George’s County, Maryland, since the late 1990s while still working in New York and later Florida. Having grown up on the Southside in what was then the largest African American community in the country, I find Prince George’s an attractive, comfortable place to live in a multi-ethnic sea of black humanity in a multi-racial, black majority county.