Tara Bynum Releases New Book, Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America

Tara Bynum, Assistant Professor of African American Studies and English, has released a new book through the University of Illinois Press titled, Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America. "In the early United States, a Black person committed an act of resistance simply by reading and writing. Yet we overlook that these activities also brought pleasure. Tara A. Bynum tells the compelling stories of four early American writers who expressed feeling good despite living while enslaved or only nominally free. The poet Phillis Wheatley delights in writing letters to a friend. Ministers John Marrant and James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw memorialize their love for God. David Walker’s pamphlets ask Black Americans to claim their victory over slavery. Together, their writings reflect the joyous, if messy, humanity inside each of them. This proof of a thriving interior self in pursuit of good feeling forces us to reckon with the fact that Black lives do matter."

Victor Ray in The Nation: "Florida Man Calls the Thought Police"

Victor Ray wrote an article published in The Nation about Florida Governor Rick DeSantis's recent demand for information from college educators on “programs and initiatives” focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion or “critical race theory” at Florida’s 12 public universities.

Louise Seamster Files Amicus Brief in Biden v Nebraska Case on Student Debt Relief

An historic coalition of attorneys, advocates, labor unions, and experts filed a series of amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Biden Administration’s student debt relief program, including Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Dr. Louise Seamster.

T.J. Dedeaux-Norris One of Three Iowa City recipients of Grants from the Iowa Artist Fellowship Program

T.J. Dedeaux-Norris is one of three Iowa City recipients of $10,000 grants from the Iowa Artist Fellowship Program. Less than a decade ago, Dedeaux-Norris made a film about life after hurricane Katrina and their life navigating three worlds: academia, art and their roots as “a girl from Mississippi.”

Victor Ray Op-Ed in the New York Times: "School is for Making Citizens"

Victor Ray co-wrote an op-ed for the New York Times with Heather McGee: "Why do we have public schools? To make young people into educated, productive adults, of course. But public schools are also for making Americans. Thus, public education requires lessons about history — the American spirit and its civics — and also contact with and context about other Americans: who we are and what has made us."

Victor Ray in the News

Friday, August 12, 2022
With the launch of his new book, On Critical Race Theory: Why It Matters & Why You Should Care, Assistant Professor of Sociology and African American Studies Victor Ray was interviewed on Meet the Press and on the Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC in August 2022.

Victor Ray in TIME: "Critical Race Theory’s Merchants of Doubt"

Protests over George Floyd’s 2020 murder were the largest civil rights demonstrations in American history. The brutal footage of officer Derek Chauvin’s suffocating knee on George Floyd’s neck led many white Americans to, at least briefly, acknowledge the reality of structural racism in policing. In response, corporations questioned their diversity policies, “defund the police” became an activist rallying cry, and books on anti-racism became unexpected bestsellers. A narrative arose that America experienced a “racial reckoning” that challenged white racism’s worst excesses.

Iowa PBS Presents Telling Our Own Story, Featuring Venise Berry

This June, Iowa PBS presents Telling Our Own Story, four films produced by Black Iowan independent filmmakers providing insights on topics that have dominated recent headlines and Black culture since Iowa became a state. The unique perspectives of these filmmakers show what life is like for Black Iowans and provide a window for other cultures to see where similarities and differences exist. On Tuesday, June 7 at 8 p.m, Professor Venise Berry and filmmaker S. Torriano Berry spotlight Black Iowans who have made their mark on the state and world with their film, Black History.

Victor Ray's Forthcoming Book on Critical Race Theory Receives a Starred Review in Publisher's Weekly

University of Iowa sociologist Ray debuts with an illuminating primer on critical race theory. He details the field’s genesis in legal studies—specifically the insight that ostensibly race-neutral laws can perpetuate racist outcomes—and its incorporation of other social sciences. A brief overview of racism as “a basic organizing principle in America’s political history” (the three-fifths compromise, Jim Crow) is followed by lucid explanations of key concepts in critical race theory, including the idea that race is not an immutable biological attribute, but a malleable social and political construction used to justify exploitation.

Richard Turner Profiled by the University of Iowa: "Soundtrack to a career"

The scholarship of an African American religious history professor at the University of Iowa has come full circle with a book that examines the relationship between African American Islam and jazz.