A Conference in Celebration of the Career of Thomas Holt

Regenstein Library, Room 122, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago 

April 29-30, 2016; 10am-6pm

In honor of University of Chicago historian Thomas C. Holt, Marking Race, Making History is a two-day conference on the past, present, and future of African-American history. 


Roger Hart / Michigan Photography, 2016

Thomas C. Holt, the James Westfall Thompson Distinguished Service Professor of American and African American History at the University of Chicago, is the preeminent historian of the peoples of the African diaspora in North America. His writing and teaching, covering the United States, the Caribbean, and beyond, has transformed the way scholars understand the histories of slavery, freedom, and race, as well as the legacy of the African-American experience. The significance of Holt’s scholarship reaches beyond the academy, illustrating the power of the historical imagination to make history in the present. 

Roger Hart / Michigan Photography, 2016 


Conference Agenda

Friday, April 29


9:00 Coffee & muffins


9:45 Welcome and Opening Remarks


Emilio Kouri, University of Chicago

Jonathan Levy, University of Chicago

Allyson Hobbs, Stanford University


10-11:30 Struggles for Humanity in the Post-Emancipation South


Chair:  Michael Dawson, Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, University of Chicago


Gretchen Long, Williams College

Writing Freedom Down: African American Handwriting in the Early Years of Freedom


Adam Rowe, University of Chicago

The Problem of Freedom in the Civil War Era: The Nation and the Triumph of Liberalism over Republicanism, 1865-1870


Mark Schultz, Lewis University

Degrees of Segregation; Settlement Patterns, Black Farm Owners, and the Shaping of Rural Communities
    in Georgia and Arkansas


A J Aiseirithe, Director of the Wendell Phillips Bicentennial Project, Harvard University

Wendell Phillips’s Civil War: Beyond Praise or Blame


12-1  Lunch


1:00-2:30  From Civil Rights to Human Rights


Chair, Cathy Cohen, University of Chicago


 Laurie Green, University of Texas, Austin

Out of Mississippi: The Relational Politics of Hunger and Race in the Late 1960s


Quincy Mills, Vassar College

Raising Hell and Bail: The Danville, VA Demonstrations of 1963


Benjamin Talton, Temple University

The High Water Mark of Black Power: The 99th Congress and Constructive Engagement in South Africa and Ethiopia


2:30  Coffee break


3:00-4:30 The Problem of Race Around the World, Part  I


Chair: Elisa Camiscioli, Binghamton University


Jack Jin Gary Lee, University of California, San Diego

Law and the Architecture of Tyranny: On the Crafting of Crown Colony Government in Jamaica


Guy Emerson Mount, University of Chicago

A History of the Possible: Thomas C. Holt, C. Vann Woodward, and the

Recovery of a Black Pacific


Kate Bjork, Hamline University

Scouting for Empire: Indian Country Abroad


Nathan Connolly, Johns Hopkins University

The Strange Career of American Liberalism



 4:30  Roundtable


Introductions by Jonathan Levy, University of Chicago


Chair:  Julie Saville, University of Chicago


Allison Blakely, Boston University


Rebecca Scott, University of Michigan


Richard White, Stanford University


Darlene Clark Hine, Northwestern University


Kenneth Warren, University of Chicago


Michael Dawson, Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Culture, and Politics, University of Chicago


7:00  Reception at the Smart Museum, 5550 South Greenwood Avenue, Chicago


Saturday, April 30


9:00 Coffee & muffins


10am-11:30  The Problem of Race Around the World, Part II


Chair:  Kathleen Conzen, University of Chicago


Christopher Todd, University of Chicago

New Light on Jamaica’s Baptist Rebellion: Slave Tithing, Church Property, and Ownership in the Baptist War of 1831


Theodore Francis, Huston-Tillotson University

Aces, but No Spades: Tennis, Tourism and the Problem of Segregation in Bermuda


Jessica Graham, University of California, San Diego

Shifting the Meaning of Democracy: Racial Inclusion as a Strategy in Brazil and the United States


Lauren (Robin) Derby, University of California, Los Angeles

Otto’s Travels: Rumors of Race and Speciation in the Atlantic World



12-1  Lunch


1-2:30  African American Activism and Its Contradictions


 Chair:  Barbara Ransby, University of Illinois at Chicago


Jill DuPont, College of St. Scholastica

The Athlete as Activist: Jackie Robinson’s Politics


Traci Parker, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

 Black Workers and Consumers in the Civil Rights Movement


Toussaint Losier, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

The Public does not believe the police can police themselves”: The Mayoral Administration of Harold Washington and the
     Permanent Crisis of Police Accountability


Kai Parker, University of Chicago

Loud, Dirty, Uncouth and Always Demanding Their Rights”: Religion and

Construction of Black Chicago Youth in the 1960s


2:30-3:00 Coffee


3:00-4:30  The Culture of the Twentieth Century Transatlantic World


Chair: Amy Stanley, University of Chicago


Celeste Day Moore, Hamilton College

The Transatlantic Turn: Race, Culture, and African-American Music in the Twentieth-Century Atlantic World


Christopher Dingwall, University of Toronto

Of Black Books and The Souls of Black Folk


Nayan Shah, University of Southern California

Refugees, Fugitivity and the Material Culture of Survival


Janette Gayle, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Black Dressmakers, the Politics of Sartorial Style, and Black Claims to Citizenship in Early 20th Century New York City


Korey Garibaldi, University of Notre Dame

White Lives, Knock On Any Door, and Foxes of Harrow, Redux


4:30 Roundtable


Introductions by Allyson Hobbs, Stanford University


Chair:  Adam Green, University of Chicago


Martha S. Jones, University of Michigan


Jim Campbell, Stanford University


George Chauncey, Yale University


Thavolia Glymph, Duke University


Mae Ngai, Columbia University


6:30  Remarks by Thomas Holt






Giving Opportunities

If you would like to make a gift in honor of Tom, we are seeking contributions between now and December 31, 2016.  If we raise $100,000 or more, we will create an endowed fellowship fund in History to be named as Tom designates.  If we don't meet the threshold for endowment, the funds will be used to support summer research for students in the department.


To make a gift, please contact Nina Herbst, Senior Associate Director of Alumni Relations and Development at (773) 834-9067; nherbst@uchicago.edu or visit our online giving form.