From Black Internationalism to Policing: 45th Charles Edmondson Historical Lecture Features Historian Dr. Leslie Alexander

February 26, 2024
Faculty presenting to audience

Our department had the pleasure of hosting our 45th Charles Edmondson Historical Lecturer at the Armstrong Browning Library’s Foyer of Meditation on March 20-21, 2024. Our speaker, Dr. Leslie Alexander, is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers University and is a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. Her research focuses on early African American and African Diaspora history.

audience in hall

Dr. Alexander’s first lecture, “Cradle of Hope: How Haitian Independence Inspired the Birth of Black Internationalism in the United States” focused on her new book, Fear of a Black Republic: Haiti and the Birth of Black Internationalism in the United States. Her award-winning book was not only the subject of her first lecture, but our graduate students also engaged with her ideas firsthand in our African American History seminar taught by the Ralph and Bessie Mae Lynn Chair in History, Dr. Ronald Angelo Johnson. 

For a department committed to Baylor’s Latin American initiative, Dr. Alexander’s research is influential. Her work in Fear of a Black Republic uncovers the intellectual and political nineteenth-century relationship that existed between Black Americans and Haiti. This relationship is evidence of what a shared consciousness rooted in “the global struggle of Black freedom” looked like.  It was Haiti’s sovereignty that influenced how Black Americans thought about political ideas and served as their “cradle of hope.”

seven faculty members

Dr. Alexander’s second lecture was titled “How We Got Here: Slavery and the Making of the Modern Police State.” Using a variety of primary sources, her lecture described how Black people were policed and surveilled during the colonial era and how these methods of control influenced the unjust policing and incarceration of people of color in the U.S. today. “How We Got Here” gave us a glimpse into Dr. Alexander’s current research.

An excellent audience attended Dr. Alexander’s lectures. Each of the lectures was preceded by a performance by Michael Clark, Lecturer of Piano in Baylor’s School of Music, who has just released a new album of works by Florence Price. Dr. DeAnna Toten Beard, Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs, gave a welcome on the first day while Dr. Coretta Pittman, Associate Dean for Diversity & Belonging in the College of Arts & Sciences, presided over the second event.

We are so thankful to have had Dr. Alexander join us for two thought-provoking and meaningful lectures. The Charles Edmondson Historical Lectures are made possible by an endowment established by Dr. E. Bud Edmondson of Longview, Texas, in honor of his father, Mr. Charles S. B. Edmondson. The Edmondson Lecture Series brings to Baylor outstanding historians who present perspectives on national and international affairs, scholars who have shaped and reshaped the ways we think about the past. We are grateful to Dr. Edmondson for his generosity in endowing this lecture series.