The Events of August 11th and 12th: A Historian’s Brief Reflections on Charlottesville


Author, Derrick P. Alridge


In the days leading up to August 11 and 12, 2017, when white nationalists and white supremacists converged on Charlottesville, Virginia for the Unite the Right Rally, I was interviewing former civil rights era teachers in my hometown of Rock Hill, South Carolina. From these teachers, I heard firsthand accounts of life growing up in the Jim Crow South. I learned that many became teachers not only to pursue an occupation, but also to challenge notions of black inferiority prevalent in Jim Crow society. These teachers wanted to give back to their communities and liberate the minds of their students, black and white. Their stories have inspired me and helped me to better contextualize what transpired in Charlottesville.

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Derrick P. Alridge

Derrick P. Alridge is Director of the Teachers in the Movement Project and a professor of history of education at the University of Virginia. His primary areas of scholarship are African American educational and intellectual history and the civil rights movement. He is the author of The Educational Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: An Intellectual History, co-editor of Message in the Music: Hip Hop, History, and Pedagogy (with James B. Stewart and V.P. Franklin), and co-editor of The Black Intellectual Tradition in the United States in the Twentieth Century (in progress with Cornelius Bynum). Alridge’s scholarship has appeared in the History of Education Quarterly, The Journal of African American History, The Journal of Negro Education, Teachers College Record, Educational Researcher, and numerous other scholarly journals and volumes. Alridge is a former fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and former postdoctoral fellow of the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation.