UA Blount students enrolled in my Slavery, Emancipation, and the University of Alabama seminar are creating a pop-up museum exhibit that explores the African American experience in Tuscaloosa during Reconstruction, 1865-1890. It is a free event and open to all.
"Panel sought for University of Alabama’s racial history," Tuscaloosa News
By Ed Enoch / Staff Writer
Posted Oct 16, 2018 at 7:35 PM
The University of Alabama Faculty Senate is proposing the creation of a commission on race, slavery and civil rights to research and share the campus’ history from slavery to its growth to a more diverse and inclusive institution.
The faculty senate approved the proposal on Tuesday during its regular meeting. The recommendation will be sent from the senate to the university administration. The administration will review the recommendation once it receives it, according to a university spokesperson Tuesday.
The proposal broadly lays out the philosophy and rationale for forming commission, said faculty senate member Amy Dayton, an associate English professor who co-chairs the Community and Legislative Affairs Committee that introduced the measure.
The commission would investigate the history of race, slavery and civil rights on the campus, publicize its findings and make recommendations for a plan to curate the history for teaching and promoting a dialog.
The commission would build on previous work to document campus history including historical markers on campus at the Little Round House, the slavery apology marker, Hood-Malone plaza and the historical marker for Autherine Lucy, the first black student to attend UA.
The work could have potential positive impacts on issues such as recruitment and retention of students as well as possibly lead to grant funding, said assistant history professor Hilary Green during a discussion of the proposal when it was presented during the September meeting.
Green, who has previously worked to document campus history related to slavery, said the creation of the commission would also position UA to continue in a leadership role among Southeastern Conference schools who are reflecting on their histories. The proposal is modeled on language from similar programs at other universities, she said.
“This is the next step to get us where we can say, ‘Hey Alabama is still leading,’ ” Green said in September.
The proposal outlines goals that include:
• Exploring the role of slavery and its legacy at UA
• Promoting research
• Creating infrastructure to support alternative campus tours
• Updating current tours with more complete information about the university’s history
• Exploring possibilities for additional markers and signs on campus
• Creating permanent displays on campus about slavery and civil rights history
• Making recommendations for additions to undergraduate curriculum and orientation programs
• Creating co-curricular activities for students
• Working with other groups doing similar work
• Securing public and private funding to support the commission’s work.
Dayton anticipates there will be ongoing discussions about the proposal, including the formation of the commission.
“There will still be opportunity on into the future because there will be a lot of things to talk about,” Dayton said.
Possible taskforce members suggested in the recommendation include faculty currently researching campus history, representatives from the senate, representatives from the university’s libraries and museums, UA Black Faculty and Staff Association representatives, the vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, and representatives from the Division of Student Life.
I had the pleasure of serving on this prize committee. I am excited for the both the award ceremony and panel discussion with the author of Proof.
Official press release:
The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal announced that C. E. Tobisman, author of Proof, will receive the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Tobisman is the eighth winner of the Prize. The award, authorized by Lee, is given to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.
“I am honored, humbled, and frankly, totally stunned,” Tobisman said. “The spirit of To Kill a Mockingbird is the spirit of one person’s ability to make the world a little more fair. That the selection committee saw that spirit in my book is something that I will treasure forever.”
Eight years ago, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and to honor former law student and author Harper Lee, the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal partnered to create the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.
Proof was chosen by a distinguished panel of writers and scholars. They are: Dr. Hilary Green, Assistant Professor of History in the Department of Gender and Race Studies at The University of Alabama; Jini Koh, Attorney and University of Alabama School of Law Graduate; Tony Mauro, U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for Law.com and The National Law Journal; and Dr. Sena Jeter Naslund, Author, Co-founder and former Program Director of the Spalding University MFA in Writing.
The Selection Committee praised the novel for advancing Lee’s legacy and her charge to award legal fiction that shows how lawyers can change society.
“Proof best captures the spirit of iconic characters, role of the legal profession in addressing social issues, and the concluding legal monologue of To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman,” Green said. “Caroline Auden is the perfect cross between lawyer Atticus Finch and the grown up Scout.”
Mauro added: “C. E. Tobisman’s Proof proves that a true page-turner can also have substance. The main character is Caroline Auden, a Los Angeles solo practitioner who takes on elder abuse and corporate skullduggery with quick-witted determination. In the tradition of Harper Lee, Tobisman shows that lawyers can effect societal change.”
Tobisman will be honored with a signed special edition of To Kill a Mockingbird. The 2018 prize will be awarded at the Library of Congress in conjunction with the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. After the award is presented, the Selection Committee will discuss Tobisman’s Proof in relation to Lee’s work.
“It’s exciting see to this award go to a practicing attorney who’s relatively new to the fiction scene,” said Molly McDonough, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal. “We also love seeing attention being drawn to the important field of elder law. We look forward to seeing what Cindy Tobisman will bring to the genre of legal fiction.”
About C. E. Tobisman
Tobisman has published two novels featuring hacker-turned-lawyer Caroline Auden. Her first book, “Doubt,” was published in 2016, and the sequel, “Proof,” was released in 2017, both by Thomas & Mercer. Tobisman has bachelor’s and J.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to authoring legal thrillers, she’s an appellate attorney in Los Angeles.
I had the pleasure of discussing Educational Reconstruction with Adam McNeil for the New Books Network – African American Studies podcast series. His questions generated a wonderful interview.
See the link for the roughly hour-long interview.
I was recently featured in an article for my undergraduate alma mater’s magazine on the courses and professors that influenced my trajectory. It was a honor to be recognized but also have artwork inspired by interviewed highlighted.
Full article is available here.
As part of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History's Annual Black History Month luncheon, I am participating in the featured author's book signing. For individuals in the DC area, feel free to stop by. For details on the event, see https://asalh100.org/luncheon-authors-book-signing/.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure to participate in a panel –Why Nott?: A Scholarly Discussion of Building names. In speaking about Josiah C. Nott and his legacy enshrined in an University of Alabama academic building, I was able to bring another dimension of his life and legacy for education of black Alabamians and other marginalized communities through my work presented in Educational Reconstruction.
I was extremely grateful for the large turnout, provocative questions raised, and general interest in the book. I hope that the conversations do not end.
The panel and even my comments even warranted mention in the student newspaper (http://www.cw.ua.edu/article/2016/09/panel-debates-nott-hall-name-change).
Educational Reconstruction received several mentions in the news. The work received a mention in the “On the Bookshelf” section of the Franklin and Marshall Magazine. In addition, the author was profiled alongside her father, an alumnus, in the “Legacy and Loyalty” section of the Spring 2016 issue. For the full issue, see http://www.fandm.edu/magazine/magazine-issues/spring-2016.
In recognition of the dynamic work being done by black women scholars, Sowande’ Mustakeem and Keisha N. Blain have compiled a list of 70 new and forthcoming books on a range of topics from the era of slavery to the post-Civil Rights era. Educational Reconstruction’s inclusion was apart of an expansion of Sowande’ Mustakeem’s original #TheHistorySoundtable list of 40 key works by black women scholars.
It is truly an honor to have the book recognized in the listing of new and forthcoming books. Collectively, as #Thehistorysoundtable II: 70 Recent History Books By Black Women argues, the selected works “shed light on how black women scholars are shaping and defining the fields of United States history, African history, and African Diaspora History. We encourage educators to incorporate these works into their syllabi for fall courses, and invite these scholars to their campuses to share their exciting research with colleagues and students.” For the full article, see http://www.aaihs.org/thehistorysoundtable-ii-70-recent-history-books-by-black-women/.
Many thanks to the editors of the Franklin and Marshall Magazine, Sowande’ Mustakeem, Keisha N. Blain, and the AAIHS (African American Intellectual History Society).
On April’s Fools’ Day, Educational Reconstruction: African American Schools in the Urban South, 1865-1890 made its official debut. I began working on the topic in 2002 when my mother asked a very interesting question – was there anything positive (other than the black church) that survived Reconstruction? It was such a simple question and my inadequate response that propelled me into writing about the growth of African American public education after the Civil War.
Now, in 2016, I can finally answer my mother’s original question. It was the public schools. While not perfect, the public schools never closed in either Mobile or Richmond because black parents, community leaders, and even students successfully argued that the schools were their fundamental right as citizens. These urban African Americans never lost sight of their vision of citizenship and freedom in their struggle for educational access and legitimacy for the African American schoolhouse. Their vision, therefore, allowed for the emergence of a sustainable system of public schools but also the employment of black teachers, creation of teacher training program, and the development of the essential educational resources. Together, the public schoolhouse and the church survived Reconstruction. Both were essential for the next phase of the African American experience even when the nation failed to uphold the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, black leaders failed, and people tried to find their way against extreme odds to live with dignity.
Reconstruction matters. It remains one of the most misunderstood periods in American history and there is a lot of scholarly work that needs to be done. Redemption (so-called) neither stopped black activism nor prevented significant victories from occurring in African Americans’ quest for citizenship and education. We need to examine the periodization of Reconstruction and terms taken for granted – i.e. Redemption and even the Nadir. We, as historians, need to find a way to discuss the role and power of hope in understanding the post-emancipation period. We also need to think more seriously about bringing our knowledge and expertise beyond the academy and into the broader public.
P.S. You can follow news on the book at https://www.facebook.com/Educational-Reconstruction-African-American-Schools-in-the-Urban-South-1543618449295898/.
You can now pre-order my book, "Educational Reconstruction" from Fordham University Press. It is scheduled for an April 2016 release!
From the catalog: Tracing the first two decades of state-funded African American schools, Educational Reconstruction addresses the ways in which black Richmonders, black Mobilians, and their white allies created, developed, and sustained a system of African American schools following the Civil War.
Hilary Green proposes a new chronology in understanding postwar African American education, examining how urban African Americans demanded quality public schools from their new city and state partners. Revealing the significant gains made after the departure of the Freedmen’s Bureau, this study reevaluates African American higher education in terms of developing a cadre of public school educator-activists and highlights the centrality of urban African American protest in shaping educational decisions and policies in their respective cities and states.
Available now at Fordham University Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble!
Historian, educator, and informed citizen concerned about social justice, equity, and access.