African Americans Respond to Racism and the Early Film Industry with Ashleigh Lawrence-Sanders


Greetings friends! I am so happy to welcome Dr. Ashleigh Lawrence-Sanders to The Rogue Historian! Ashleigh is an Assistant Professor in the History department at the University of Dayton. She holds a PhD in History from Rutgers University. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Wake Forest University and an M.A. in Human Rights Studies from Columbia University. Her research and teaching interests include 19th and 20th century African American and United States history including Civil War memory, Black cultural and intellectual history, Black radicalism, and public memory in the United States. She is currently working on her manuscript, They Knew What the War Was About: African Americans and the Memory of the Civil War, which explores Black Americans’ long engagement with the legacy of the Civil War and the myths of the Lost Cause.

This was a fantastic and very enlightening interview…and I am especially happy because Ashleigh’s forthcoming work will most certainly influence my own. Listen and I think you will get what I mean. We discuss:

  • Twitter - because it’s a theme on this show to talk about the blessing and curse which is social media

  • Black response to the Lost Cause

  • The 1915 silent film, The Birth of a Nation and the black response.

  • Henry Louis Gates’s new documentary on Reconstruction and his book (which I recently reviewed) Stony the Road

  • Film as propaganda

  • The 1939 blockbuster, Gone with the Wind, and the varying responses from black intellectuals and activists

  • Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy in Gone with the Wind

We also bring in some important works of scholarship - including Nina Silber’s This War Ain’t Over: Fighting the Civil War in New Deal America and of course the work of Deborah Gray White. A good starting point here would be a look at her publication, Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994. I looking forward to Ashleigh’s own scholarship and until then, I recommend you all follow her on the Twitter.

And please, don’t forget to subscribe to The Rogue Historian Podcast on Apple Podcasts or your favorite app so you never ever ever ever miss a show. That would be dumb.

With compliments,