Jane Dailey - "White Fright: The Sexual Panic at the Heart of America's Racist History" - Thomas C. Holt

Tuesday, December 15, 2020 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Jane Dailey

Jane Dailey will discuss White Fright: The Sexual Panic at the Heart of America's Racist History. She will be joined in conversation by Thomas C. Holt.

Presented in partnership with Hachette Book Group, the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights

Virtual event


About the book: In White Fright, historian Jane Dailey brilliantly reframes our understanding of the long struggle for African American rights. Those fighting against equality were not motivated only by a sense of innate superiority, as is often supposed, but also by an intense fear of black sexuality. In this urgent investigation, Dailey examines how white anxiety about interracial sex and marriage found expression in some of the most contentious episodes of American history since Reconstruction: in battles over lynching, in the policing of black troops’ behavior overseas during World War II, in the violent outbursts following the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, and in the tragic story of Emmett Till. The question was finally settled — as a legal matter — with the Court’s definitive 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia, which declared interracial marriage a “fundamental freedom.” Placing sex at the center of our civil rights history, White Fright offers a bold new take on one of the most confounding threads running through American history.

About the author: Jane Dailey is an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago. A recipient of fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin and the Guggenheim Foundation, she is also the author and coauthor of several previous books, including Before Jim Crow and Building the American Republic. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.

About the interolcutor: Currently the James Westfall Thompson Professor Emeritus of American and African American History at the University of Chicago, Tom Holt has a longstanding professional interest in comparing the experiences of people in the African diaspora, particularly those in the Caribbean and the United States. His study of Jamaica's economy, politics, and society after slavery, The Problem of Freedom: Race, Labor, and Politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832–1938, (Johns Hopkins, 1992) was awarded the 1995 Elsa Goveia Prize by the Association of Caribbean Historians. The Southern Historical Association awarded the 1978 Charles S. Sydnor Prize to Prof. Holt's previous work on the comparable period in the American South after emancipation, Black Over White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina during Reconstruction (Illinois, 1977). He is also the author of a forthcoming book entitled The Movement: The African American Struggle for Civil Rights (Oxford, 2021).

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