A Contemporary Study of Black Reconstruction in America: 1860-1880
Curated by: Nicholas Petr and Tanya Garcia
Stories of Reconstruction focuses on the final three chapters of W.E. B. Du Bois’s ground-breaking book, Black Reconstruction in America: 1860-1880 — The Propaganda of History, Back Toward Slavery, and The Founding of the Public School. Members of the Oak Hill Center Collective spent the past year meticulously studying Du Bois’s text and the importance of his analysis to the popular understandings of race and class in the United States today.
In 1935, W.E.B. Du Bois shocked historians and sociologists alike with his book Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880. He presented an unbelievably detailed analysis of American history that challenged popular understandings of race and class in a young nation which promised to assert “the equality of all men and sought to derive powers of government from the consent of the governed.” Du Bois dissects the official history of the Civil War and Reconstruction period in the United States and reevaluates efforts at the time to both support and complicate the reshaping of American society around its own core values. He recognized that the events that took place over this 20-year period and the way they were remembered would significantly impact social and economic relationships in the United States for generations to come. For Du Bois, a detailed account and critical perspective of these events would be integral to the ability of future generations to effectively work to undo racial and economic injustice that had plagued the nation from the outset.
We at Oak Hill hope that by presenting an understanding of history and its impact on the present, the dialogue and activities that challenge racial capitalism today will be strengthened and better understood. This ‘exhibit’ is best viewed as a classroom—a space in which alternative curricula around these themes can be explored and shared with a larger audience.