Creating Black Americans
Six Bridges Book Festival presents: Nell Irvin Painter, author of Creating Black Americans: African-American History and its Meanings 1619 to the Present
Moderator: Jessica McDaniel
This event will be hosted virtually on the Zoom platform. Free registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You may sign up for Zoom and download the Zoom app at https://zoom.us/.
About Creating Black Americans
Here is a magnificent account of a past rich in beauty and creativity, but also in tragedy and trauma. Eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter blends a vivid narrative based on the latest research with a wonderful array of artwork by African American artists, works which add a new depth to our understanding of black history.
Painter offers a history written for a new generation of African Americans, stretching from life in Africa before slavery to today’s hip-hop culture. The book describes the staggering number of Africans – over ten million – forcibly transported to the New World, most doomed to brutal servitude in Brazil and the Caribbean. Painter looks at the free black population, numbering close to half a million by 1860 (compared to almost four million slaves), and provides a gripping account of the horrible conditions of slavery itself. The book examines the Civil War, revealing that it only slowly became a war to end slavery, and shows how Reconstruction, after a promising start, was shut down by terrorism by white supremacists. Painter traces how through the long Jim Crow decades, blacks succeeded against enormous odds, creating schools and businesses and laying the foundations of our popular culture. We read about the glorious outburst of artistic creativity of the Harlem Renaissance, the courageous struggles for Civil Rights in the 1960s, the rise and fall of Black Power, the modern hip-hop movement, and two black Secretaries of State. Painter concludes that African Americans today are wealthier and better educated, but the disadvantaged are as vulnerable as ever.
Painter deeply enriches her narrative with a series of striking works of art – more than 150 in total, most in full color – works that profoundly engage with black history and that add a vital dimension to the story, a new form of witness that testifies to the passion and creativity of the African-American experience.
Rabbi Ira Sanders Lecture
This CALS Speakers Series event honors Rabbi Ira Sanders. Rabbi Sanders built an unforgettable legacy through his passionate advocacy for social justice and the many initiatives he founded to better the lives of others. Dr. Sanders served as rabbi at Congregation B’nai Israel for 38 years. Sanders, who lived in Little Rock from 1926 until his death in 1985, was an outspoken supporter of racial integration, equal opportunity, and women’s rights.
About the Author
Nell Irvin Painter is a distinguished and award winning scholar and writer. A graduate of Harvard University, Painter went on to become the Edwards Professor Emeritus of American History at Princeton University. She is the author of seven books and countless articles relating to the history of the American South. Painter’s latest book, The History of White People, guides us through more than 2000 years of Western civilization, illuminating not only the invention of race but the frequent praise of “whiteness.” Her critically acclaimed book, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol, won the nonfiction prize of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
In Sojourner Truth, Painter focuses on the life of the black abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. A related article, “Representing Truth: Sojourner Truth’s Knowing and Becoming Known,” appeared in The Journal of American History. Painter is also the author of Southern History Across the Color Line, which moves across the divides that have compartmentalized southern history, women’s history, and African American history by focusing on relationships among men and women of different races.
From 1997-2000 Painter directed the Program in African-American Studies at Princeton University. In addition to Harvard University, Painter was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Bordeaux, France, and the University of Ghana, West Africa. Prior to joining the faculty of Princeton in 1988 she taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Much of her writing has been concerned with southerners such as Hosea Hudson, Gertrude Thomas and Wilbur Cash. In more recent years she has been writing on the United States as a whole, in her third book, Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877-1919, which won the Letitia Brown Memorial Publication Prize. Painter’s other books include The Narrative of Hosea Hudson: His Life as a Negro Communist in the South, Creating Black Americans, and Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas after Reconstruction.
Painter has been featured as a narrator in the PBS historical series American Experience, which combines dramatic reenactments with commentary by historians and authors. Painter received the Centennial Medal of the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, an award that celebrates the achievements of a select group of Harvard University’s most accomplished alumni. She’s been a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, the Bunting Institute, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Painter was selected as the President of the Southern Historical Association for 2007, President of the Organization of American Historians from 2007-2008 and is a recipient of the Brown Publication Prize awarded by the Association of Black Woman Historians.
She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University, her M.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles and her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Painter retired from the Princeton History Department in 2005, and used her newly acquired free time to earn a BFA degree from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 2009 and received her MFA in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011. Painter’s latest book is entitled Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over, about her experiences during this time.
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