Why the Past Won’t Go Away: The Crisis of History in the Age of Post-Racialism
The history books, which have completely ignored the contribution of the Negro in American history, have only served to intensify the Negroes’ sense of worthlessness and to augment the anachronistic doctrine of white supremacy.” — Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967)
What does it mean when history as a discipline is under attack at a time when we have a black president and murders of unarmed black teens? Schomburg Center director Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad explains how knowing the past directly relates to understanding the present race-related crises. In his talk, Dr. Muhammad is expected to respond to the Trayvon Martin assassination, the Zimmerman verdict and how we remember the March on Washington and other major historical events. While addressing issues such as mass incarceration and punitive actions against youth of color, he will focus on the present attack on historical understanding/historical literacy. Dr. Muhammad will talk about the present disinvestment in history departments, in history students and in historical learning among younger people, and how these affect both white supremacy and people of color’s perceptions of themselves.
Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad is director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research division of the New York Public Library, and a former associate professor of history at Indiana University-Bloomington. His book The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, published by Harvard University Press, won the 2011 John Hope Franklin Best Book award in American Studies. He is now working on his second book, Disappearing Acts: The End of White Criminality in the Age of Jim Crow, which traces the historical roots of the changing demographics of crime and punishment so evident today.
Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad in the news:
“Confronting the Contradictions of America’s Past” on Moyers & Company
Interview with The Root upon his appointment to Schomburg