Author Archives: msjonz

Ava DuVernay’s 13th: It’s About Hope, Not History

“The 13th Amendment’s loophole gave license to a system that has brutalized black and brown men and women in the United States. DuVernay’s 13th responds by asserting a fierce, relentless humanity that neither law nor the systems it has set in place … Continue reading

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Birthright Citizenship: A Close Look at a Federalist Society Debate

The debate over birthright citizenship is alive, well, and still happening in polite circles. At least this is true in Federalist Society circles, here with Gerald Walpin on one side and David B. Rivkin, Jr. and John C. Yoo on the other. This debate turns on … Continue reading

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Me, as Performer?

I blame my colleague, curator Amanda Krugliak, for persuading me to put my thoughts out there in a new form — performance. Not just any performance, mind you. I’m taking part in a production of John Cage’s “How to Get … Continue reading

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“Visiting” the Smithsonian’s new Museum of African American History and Culture

My friend, historian Emily Clark, posted this image of Johnnetta Cole’s Bennett College inauguration robe during her visit to the NMAAHC. I was moved because I was at Bennett College when I saw the post, getting ready to deliver the … Continue reading

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Reading L.D. Burnett’s “In Conclusion.”

I’m reading L.D. Burnett, from her recent paper at the USIH meeting. I most often encounter her via a quick quip on Facebook or Twitter. So I was all the more moved to find her here, in long form, thinking out … Continue reading

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The Mixed Experience

The Mixed Experience is hosted by novelist and activist Heidi Durrow. I joined Heidi, along with colleagues Karen Downing, Mark Kamimura, and Ed West, to talk about multiracial identity at the University of Michigan, and beyond. Listen in here.

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Landmark Cases: Dred Scott v. Sandford, for C-SPAN

I joined GWU Law’s Chris Bracey and C-SPAN’s Susan Swain for an episode of C-SPAN’s Landmark Cases on Dred Scott v. Sandford. The show runs 90 minutes, but you can also find highlight here.  

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Julian Bond’s Great-Grandmother a Slave Mistress? How the New York Times Got it Wrong

When the New York Times termed the late Julian Bond’s great-grandmother, Jane Bond, a “slave mistress,” social media fired back, enumerating all the ways in which this phrase mis-characterized the terms of a sexual exchange between an enslaved woman and … Continue reading

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We Are the Intellectuals

No question posed here spoke to me more than that asked by Kientz Anderson in her Introduction to this roundtable: “Who are intellectuals?” This question was that which guided our work from the outset. I hope it isn’t revealing too much … Continue reading

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On The Cherokee Rose, Historical Fiction, and Silences in the Archives

The Cherokee Rose, the debut novel by historian Tiya Miles, caught me in the middle of a longstanding argument. I had pre-ordered the book from its publisher John F. Blair, and so it arrived unexpectedly, as if unsummoned. It was … Continue reading

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