I came to academia after many years working as a Community and Human rights organizer and before that as a shipyard rigger, longshoreman and house painter. My wife, Laura Ginsburg, and I have two children. Lena is a graduate of the National Cathedral School for Girls and the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and Miles is a graduate of St Albans School for Boys and the University of Michigan College of Arts and Sciences. I have lived in Washington, DC all of my adult life and was inducted into the Washington, D.C. Hall of Fame in 2009 for my service to the people of the nation’s capital.


B.A., Political Economy, Antioch College;  M.A., History, Georgetown University; Ph.D., History, Georgetown University 

Project Summary

I explore how the black population of Washington, D.C. developed over two plus centuries, analyzing issues of slavery, freedom, race, class, gender, riots (1835, 1848, 1919, and 1968), education, gentrification and political activity. I study the migration of blacks from the south, Africa, and the Caribbean. I locate five periods (1) 1791-1849, (2) 1850-1918, (3)1919 -1947, (4) 1948-1973 (5) 1973 to the present, placing blacks at the center of public policy debates  on human rights, poverty, education,  war, race, culture, political representation and congressional intrusion. The result will be the first full history of African Americans in the nation’s capital. 

Major Publications

  • Let This Voice be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism, the University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.
  • Co-editor with Jackie Bacon of African- Americans and the Haitian Revolution: Selected Essays and Historical Documents, Routledge Press, January 2010.
  • "Disaporan Voices of the African Past: James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, Quobna Ottabah Cugoano, Olaudah Equiano and Ignatius Sancho as Sources of African History" appears in The Changing Atlantic Africa: Essays in Honor of Robin Law, Carolina Academic Press, 2009.
  • “James and Esther Jackson: A Personal Introspective,” appears in African American Communists and the Origins of the Modern Civil Rights Movement, Routledge Press, 2009.
  • ‘Friends of the Negro! Fly with me, The path is open to the sea:’ “Remembering the Haitian Revolution in the History, Music and Culture of the African American People,” Early American Studies. April 2008
  • “The Rise of Abolition” in The Atlantic World, 1450-2000, Indiana University Press, 2008.
  • Liner notes to the Grammy Nominated Jazz CD by Charlie Haden and Hank Jones, Steal Away: Spirituals, Folks Songs and Hymns, Verve Records, 1995. I have also  written the liner notes to the new Haden and the late Hank Jones’ new work Come Sunday, Jones’ last recording  which will be issued in October 2011.
  • Preface to CROWN ME, the story of an African American men's Checkers Club that was published in 2010. The story is the subject of a projected documentary.