Dr. Bernard Powers is the founding director of the College of Charleston’s Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston and a professor emeritus of history at the university. He’s an expert on African American history and culture and the role of slavery in American history.
Charleston — the city where the civil war started and where 40% of all enslaved Africans brought to the United States entered the country — has long been a center of African American history and culture. And like many American cities, it also has public Confederate monuments and statues of historical figures who supported slavery and advocated white supremacy.
As of last week, the city has one less monument. The statue of vice president and slavery advocate John C. Calhoun in Marion Square — located just a block from Mother Emanuel AME, the site of the 2015 terrorist attack by white supremacist Dylan Roof — was removed on June 24 after a unanimous city council vote.
Dennis Smith is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he primarily teaches Native American History. His research focuses on the cultures of Assiniboine and Sioux Plains Tribes as well as the salmon traditions of Pacific Northwest Native American and British Columbia First Nations tribes. His most extensive research has been on the oral traditions of the Dakota and Assiniboine tribes. He is of Assiniboine descent.
Smith is currently in the process of publishing a book consisting of a series of historical essays with a focus on the cultures of Dakota and Assiniboine tribal leaders, to be published in May 2018. The essays are intended to place their experiences in a modern context, specifically as it relates to current developments at Standing Rock. His goal, he says, is to advance the knowledge and teaching of Native American history in both society and Higher Education.
Associate Professor of History, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Areas of Expertise: Native American History, American History, Native American Oral Traditions, Standing Rock, Assiniboine Tribe, Dakota Tribe, Higher Education
Leah Wright Rigueur is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is an expert on race and politics, modern African American history, U.S. political and social history, and riots, backlash and campus unrest. Rigueur has explored the dynamics of black Republican activists, officials and politicians as it relates to civil rights and conservatism in her latest book The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power. She has been featured on various news outlets including NPR’s All Things Considered.
Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Areas of expertise: Race and Politics, Modern African American History, U.S. Political and Social History, and Riots, Backlash and Campus Unrest
Chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Elsa Barkley Brown Collegiate Professor and Professor of History, American Culture, Native American Studies and Women’s Studies at University of Michigan
Areas ofExpertise: History, American History, Native American Issues, African American Studies, Interrelationship Between Native Americans and African Americans, Women’s Issues
Mae Ngai(nye) is a professor of history and Asian American studies at Columbia University. According to her bio, she was previously “a labor-union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education.” She has written about immigration for organizations such as The New York Times, The Nation, and the Boston Review.