Even when they embody everything the nation claims to respect, African Americans cannot count on being treated like citizens. Simply consider the black soldiers and nurses who served in the Civil War, WWI, and WWII only to be disfranchised and denigrated … or consider the Ivy League-educated constitutional lawyer who rose to the office of president only to face demands that he “show his papers,” his birth certificate and academic transcripts. Though their success will not likely bring them the safety and respectability it should, African Americans seem to cling to all that purportedly makes one an ideal citizen, including the heteronormative nuclear family and its traditional household. What does this pattern of investing against the odds reveal about African American culture? The short answer: homemade citizenship.
Hosted by: University of Illinois Press
In conjunction with: African American Research Center, College of Education, Department of African American Studies, Department of English, Department of Gender & Women's Studies, Department of History, Department of Theatre, Humanities Research Institute, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
Speaker: Koritha Mitchell | Associate Professor of English, Ohio State University
Koritha Mitchell is a literary historian, cultural critic, and associate professor of English at Ohio State University. She is author of Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, which won book awards from the American Theatre and Drama Society and from the Society for the Study of American Women Writers. She is editor of the Broadview Edition of Frances Harper’s 1892 novel Iola Leroy, and her articles include “James Baldwin, Performance Theorist, Sings the Blues for Mister Charlie,” published by American Quarterly, and “Love in Action,” which appeared in Callaloo and draws parallels between lynching and violence against LGBTQ+ communities. Her second monograph, From Slave Cabins to the White House: Homemade Citizenship in African American Culture, was published in August 2020 by the University of Illinois Press. Her commentary has appeared in outlets such as CNN, Good Morning America, The Huffington Post, NBC News, PBS Newshour, and NPR's Morning Edition. On Twitter, she’s @ProfKori.