Step by Step

My article, “Step by Step: American Interracialism and the Origins of Talk-First Activism” has just been published in Modern American History!

Why are diversity trainings, dialogues, & social justice book clubs often proposed as first steps to creating an equitable society? “Step by Step” suggests that the answer lies in the history of an idea I call “talk-first activism.”

TLDR; in the first half of 20th century, a nationwide movement tries to fight prejudice by facilitating talk across the color line. In the 1940s-1950s, Black staffers in predominantly white Protestant organizations transform that movement through their insistence that talk must lead to action. Cue unintended consequences…

Because “Step by Step” was published by Modern American History as an open access article, you can read the article without a paid subscription! I’d be happy to discuss Step by Step with your classroom or organization.

Thanks to Sarah Phillips and the MAH team for their excellent editorial assistance, as well as to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful critiques. Special thanks to Monica Blair, Allison Kelley, Gillet Rosenblith, and, most of all, Grace Hale for their generous and insightful feedback. And shoutout to the Smith College Library, the University of Minnesota Library, and the University of Virginia’s department of history for their generous financial support of this project!