5/15 Reconstruction Didn’t Fail: It Was Sabotaged w/ Kidada E. Williams

May 15, 2023

Happy Monday! Sam hosts Kidada E. Williams, associate professor of history at Wayne State University, to discuss her recent book I Saw Death Coming: A History of Terror and Survival in the War against Reconstruction. Sam begins the show by talking about the upcoming debt ceiling battle, and how it seems increasingly likely that Biden is going to cave to Kevin McCarthy and the Republicans by agreeing to some spending caps and additional work requirements, when he absolutely doesn’t have to if he and his administration had any creativity whatsoever. Then, Kidada joins the show and Sam and her start off by recapping what The “Dunning School” of history was, how it came about, and what its essential project was (sanitizing the Confederacy, as well as the racist, violent legacy of post-Civil War Reconstruction.) Sam and Professor Williams also marvel at how successful the project of the Dunning School was, highlighting anecdotally how minimal amounts of time and resources were dedicated in classrooms to fully fleshing out the harmful Reconstruction’s effects on black Americans actually were. Professor Williams then dives into her scholarship, where she located direct testimony from families taken in the field by members of Congress in the post-Civil War South, and how these testimonies paint a picture of what really happened after the Civil War supposedly “ended”: the fighting became a sort of guerrilla war against free black people, and the war itself didn’t neatly “end”, so to speak. Professor Williams recounts, per her research, the gratuitous and brutal violence free black people faced even after being released from bondage, and even after receiving the rights that they did not possess before prior to the Civil War. They wrap up the conversation by centering the issues of white supremacy and how crucial they are to what happened during Reconstruction: a concerted effort and investment in the furtherance of white supremacy, not just by white Southerners, but by white Northerners too, in the project of continuing to marginalize and subjugate free black people.

And in the Fun Half, Sam talks about Latino truckers taking to social media to call for a boycott of Florida because draconian immigration laws proposed under Gov. Ron DeSantis, Elon Musk’s free speech crusades on Twitter resulting in censoring people on the site to not upset the Turkish government, a decision that even pissed off Enes Kanter Freedom. Protesters with Climate Defiance demonstrate at Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s book event (“The Joy Of Politics”, in stores near you!), and the weekend Fox & Friends crew get upset with President Biden for daring to utter the words “white supremacy” when talking about the famously not-racist United States.  Plus, your calls & IM’s!

Check out Kidada’s book here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/i-saw-death-coming-9781635576634/

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