Kidada Williams on I Saw Death Coming: A History of Terror and Survival in the War against Reconstruction

On Monday, March 20, 2023, author Kidada E. Williams will discuss her latest book, I Saw Death Coming: A History of Terror and Survival in the War against Reconstruction.

The story of Reconstruction is often told from the perspective of the politicians, generals, and journalists whose accounts claim an outsized place in collective memory. But this pivotal era looked very different to African Americans in the South transitioning from bondage to freedom after 1865. They were besieged by a campaign of white supremacist violence that persisted through the 1880s and beyond. For too long, their lived experiences have been sidelined, impoverishing our understanding of the obstacles post-Civil War Black families faced, their inspiring determination to survive, and the physical and emotional scars they bore because of it.

In her new book, I Saw Death Coming, Williams offers a breakthrough account of the much-debated Reconstruction period, transporting readers into the daily existence of formerly enslaved people building hope-filled new lives. Drawing on overlooked sources and bold new readings of the archives, Williams offers a revelatory and, in some cases, minute-by-minute record of nighttime raids and Ku Klux Klan strikes. And she deploys cutting-edge scholarship on trauma to consider how the effects of these attacks would linger for decades-indeed, generations-to come.

Williams will be in conversation with Prentiss Charney Fellow Jessica Rucker.

These online classes with people’s historians are held at least once a month (generally on Mondays) at 4:00 pm PT / 7:00 pm ET for 90 minutes. In each session, the historian is interviewed by a teacher and breakout rooms allow participants to meet each other in small groups, discuss the content, and share teaching ideas. We designed the sessions for teachers and other school staff. Parents, students, and others are also welcome to participate.

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