In The Banjo: America’s African Instrument (Harvard Univ. Press, 2016), Laurent Dubois weaves a narrative of how this instrument was created by enslaved Africans in the midst of bondage in the Caribbean and Americas. He documents its journey from 17th- and 18th-century plantations to 19th-century minstrel shows to the bluegrass of Appalachia to the folk revival of the mid-20th century. In the process, Dubois documents how the banjo came to symbolize community, slavery, resistance, and ultimately America itself. A historian of the Caribbean and a banjo player himself, Dubois relied on the work of academic historians as well as insights from musicians, collectors, and banjo makers to tell this story.
Edward Carson is a high school history teacher at the Brooks School. He lives in North Andover, Massachusetts, and has been a member since 2006.
By Brenda E. Stevenson
“No justice, no peace!” was the anthem of the day in late April 1992 in Los Angeles as local blacks, Latinos/as, and even a sprinkling of Asian Americans and whites joined in the five day “rebellion” that purportedly underscored the injustice of the verdict in the Rodney King police brutality trial. It ended with a devastating toll of losses—54 deaths, more than 2,300 injuries, 3,600 fires, 1,100 buildings destroyed, 4,500 businesses looted, more than 12,000 arrested, and $1 billion in damage.
By Lauren Tilton
It can be challenging to teach about the civil rights movement. For many reasons, from time constraints to lack of access to archives, the liberation struggle is often framed through its most prominent leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Now, thanks to a partnership between Duke University and the SNCC Legacy Project, an organization comprised of SNCC participants, teachers have access to the SNCC Digital Gateway.
Melinda Chateauvert is an associate director of the Front Porch Research Strategy in New Orleans, Louisiana. She divides her year between New Orleans and Washington, DC, and has been a member of the AHA since 1992.
Amina Hassan is an author and adjunct faculty member at California State University, Northridge, and has been an AHA member since May 2005.
One of President Obama’s last act while in office was to designate a national monument to Reconstruction in Beaufort, South Carolina. The AHA supported this important expansion of the National Park Service system with a letter to the US Secretary of the Interior on November 16, 2016. AHA Today spoke to historians Greg Downs and Kate Masur, whose advocacy was crucial to this effort, about the significance of the designation, the backstory of the monument’s creation, and next steps.
James Benton is a Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Fellow at Georgetown University, where he is helping the university implement the recommendations of its Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, which were announced in September 2016. He lives in Northern Virginia and has been a member since 2015.