Michael Dawson and Megan Ming Francis, curators for and contributors to the “Reading Racial Conflict” series, conclude the series with a set of reflections on the ways RRC authors bring the deep lessons from classic works in the political economy of race to bear on the present. They call attention to key themes that cut cross the essays: the persistence of violence visited on and the demonization of African Americans; the place of race in the development of capitalism and class formation; how capitalist development and racism deepen divides between the white and black working classes; class divisions within the black community; and how the intersections of race and capital shape inequalities globally.
Megan Ming Francis
Megan Ming Francis is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. Francis specializes in the study of American politics, race, and the development of constitutional law. Francis received her doctorate in politics from Princeton University. She is the author of the award-winning book Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State (Cambridge University Press, 2014). This book tells the story of how the early campaign against state-sanctioned racial violence of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) shaped the modern civil rights movement.
In the latest essay in our "Reading Racial Conflict" series, Megan Ming Francis draws attention to the extraordinary work of Ida B. Wells. In the late nineteenth century, Wells exposed the extent of racial violence in the United States by documenting lynching and then disseminating her findings through her books, journalism, and activism. Ming Francis emphasizes a further innovation by Wells—i.e., how she connected lynchings to the economic interests and status anxieties of white southerners, as well as the relevance of this connection to understanding contemporary racial conflicts.