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Joshua D. Farrington Featured in AFA Spotlight

Joshua D. Farrington Featured in AFA Spotlight

Joshua D. Farringtonis featured in this series intended to let EKU faculty, staff, students, or alumni discuss their encounters with African or African-American studies, peoples, and societies as students, instructors, researchers, or travelers. 

Briefly state your educational background, past and current academic positions held, most recent or significant publications.

I received my PhD in African American History and 20th Century U.S. History in 2013 from the University of Kentucky. My research has focused on black politics during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1940s-1970s at both the local level (particularly Louisville, Kentucky, and Memphis, Tennessee) as well as the national level. My book, Black Republicans and the Transformation of the GOP (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), looks at the relationship between black Republicans and both the Republican Party and Civil Rights Movement in the mid-twentieth century. I have been with AFA at EKU since 2013.

Discuss how you have encountered Africa or African-American studies, peoples, and societies in your research, studies, travels, scholarship, teaching, or associations.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a historian is digging into historical archives across the country. When research my book, I was fortunate to have access to the personal papers of some of the most important African Americans of the twentieth century, including E. Frederic Morrow (a White House aide to President Dwight Eisenhower), Edward W. Brooke (a Senator from Massachusetts and the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate), and Floyd McKissick (a Freedom Rider and National Director of the Congress of Racial Equality—CORE).

What is the most gratifying experience of those encounters, and why?

The most gratifying encounter during my research was the privilege of going through the personal papers of baseball legend, and civil rights icon, Jackie Robinson at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Though Robinson was not from Kentucky, he participated alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1964 “March on Frankfort.” While going through his materials from his trip to Kentucky, I found a treasure trove of new information about local activists from Kentucky. It was exciting to see how a national figure of the stature of Jackie Robinson had connections to grassroots activists in Kentucky.

What should anyone who is yet to experience Africana studies learn from your experience?

If anyone wants to truly understand American History, the experiences, contributions, and legacy of African Americans is one of the most central aspects one must first grasp. As any student of history quickly learns, “the problem of the color line,” to quote W.E.B. Du Bois, is essential to understanding virtually all eras of American history, including ours today. A background in Africana studies challenges students and scholars to become critical thinkers, analytical writers, and informed citizens.

Published on October 03, 2016

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