My research interests are concentrated in two somewhat related areas, civil rights movement in the United States from 1920 to 1970 exclusive of the South and the intersection of race and sports in the United States. As a historian, one of my goals is to link the study of the past to the relevance of today. My work in these two principal fields serves to illuminate many aspects of the contemporary American experience.
My current book project, Beacons of their Race: African Americans and the Olympic Movement, 1896-1948 explores the impact of African Americans on the early Olympic Games. Track and field was the most prestigious event of the nascent games and the very participation of blacks constituted a victory in this period of unrelenting segregation. As these pioneers persevered, the black community rallied around them. Since the majority of these early Olympians were college-educated, black intellectuals envisioned them as exemplars of the classical fusion of body and mind. For these observers, black Olympians were the true embodiment of the ancient Olympic spirit.
My first book, Building the Beloved Community: Philadelphia’s Interracial Civil Rights Movement and the Origins of Multiculturalism, 1930-1970 (University Press of Mississippi, 2014) examined the role of a locally-based interracial civil rights movement in an important northern metropolis. My work tells the stories of several organizations linked by an evolving philosophy. I argue that this movement, which incorporated elements of the Social Gospel movement, Progressivism, Quakerism and early twentieth century theories on race employed strategies that influenced the better-known southern civil rights movement and the developed tactics that contributed to the emergence of multiculturalism.
- Building the Beloved Community: Philadelphia’s Interracial Civil Rights Movement and the Origins of Multiculturalism. University Press of Mississippi Press, 2014).
- “The Rise of Black Professional Baseball in Philadelphia, 1860-1910,” Elysian Fields Quarterly: The Baseball Review, Vol. 22, No.3 (Summer 2005).
- “The Philadelphia NAACP,” in Invisible Philadelphia: History Through Voluntary Organization, edited by Jean Barth Toll and Margaret Gilliam. Atwater-Kent Museum, 1995.
My teaching duties are focused primarily on undergraduate and graduate instruction and advising. While one of my goals is to provide my students with historical content, I also equip them with the skills necessary to work in the discipline of history. In my classes, I achieve through an introduction to a wide array of primary and secondary sources. In addition, I seek to make the questions of the past relevant to our present day situation.
Since my arrival in 2002, I have taught levels of history classes from the 100 to the 500 levels. The survey courses range from 90 to 110 undergraduates and while these classes are primarily content-driven lectures, I have introduced some assignments and techniques that have been effective and engaging. In addition to two in class examinations, I also utilize in class writing assignments. For example, students are asked to recount the reasons for Prohibition and whether we need more restrictions on alcohol today. The teaching assistants and I select the most articulate responses and the class usually has a spirited, but enlightening, discussion. Thus, the exercise has served a dual purpose: students have honed their writing skills and they have placed a controversial issue within a broader historical context.
- HIST 171 The World Since 1500
- HIST 260 American History to 1865
- HIST 261 American History Since
- HIST 363 U.S. Sport History
- HIST 469 The Vietnam War
United States-20th Century, Sports, Public
Ph.D., Temple, 1999
By appointment only.