Dr. Carl Suddler Places ‘Central Park Five’ in Historical Context for the ‘AJC’

Presumed Criminal

Incoming Assistant Professor of History Carl Suddler recently contributed to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Yusef Salaam of Central Park Five: ‘Born with a target on our backs.'” Shelia Poole wrote the piece, which centers on Yusuf Salaam, one of the so-called Central Park Five. Read the excerpt that quotes Dr. Suddler below as well as the full article.

“I think when we see these cases, especially wrongful convictions, it does kind of beg the question just how many of these cases have happened over time,” said Carl Suddler, author of “Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York” and professor of history, who will join the faculty at Emory University this fall. “In the United States, we do not have a justice system, we have a legal system. We have a system that followed the letter of the law, not necessarily fairness.”

Crespino and Lal Win Georgia Author of the Year Awards

Atticus Finch

Two History Department faculty have won 2019 Georgia Author of the Year awards. Dr. Joseph Crespino, Chair and Jimmy Carter Professor of History, won in the history category for his Atticus Finch: The Biography (Basic Books). The publisher describes Atticus Finch as charting

how Harper Lee’s father provided the central inspiration for each of her books. A lawyer and newspaperman, A. C. Lee was a principled opponent of mob rule, yet he was also a racial paternalist. Harper Lee created the Atticus of Watchman out of the ambivalence she felt toward white southerners like him. But when a militant segregationist movement arose that mocked his values, she revised the character in To Kill a Mockingbird to defend her father and to remind the South of its best traditions. A story of family and literature amid the upheavals of the twentieth century, Atticus Finch is essential to understanding Harper Lee, her novels, and her times.

Associated Faculty in History Ruby Lal, whose primary appointment is as Professor of South Asian Studies in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, received the Author of the Year award in the biography category. Lal’s Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan chronicles the life of a seventeenth-century empress who “wielded unprecedented power, strategizing with senior counselors, minting currency, addressing the public, shooting tigers, and designing clothing and architecture.” The book was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Dr. Carl Suddler on “When They See Us” in ‘The Washington Post’

Assistant Professor Carl Suddler recently wrote a piece in The Washington Post commenting on the Netflix miniseries “When They See Us,” which chronicles the story of five teenagers — the so-called Central Park Five — forced to confess to a rape they did not commit in 1989. Suddler is the author of Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York, to be published by NYU press in July of 2019. Read the full piece, “How the Central Park Five expose the fundamental injustice in our legal system,” along with the excerpt below.

“When They See Us” sheds new light on this old tale and aims to create change. DuVernay’s miniseries joins the decades-long efforts by activists to humanize the Central Park Five beyond the numeric moniker. It also, perhaps most notably, has inspired the next generation of social justice activists committed to working to overturn wrongful convictions and to reigniting mainstream discussions about criminal injustices in America’s legal system, in the hope of achieving an overhaul of the system.

At the Crossroads of Nursing and the Humanities: Dr. Kylie M. Smith Teaches HIST 190, “Madness in America: A History from Lunancy to Mass Incarceration”

Dr. Kylie M. Smith is Assistant Professor and the Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow for Nursing and the Humanities. In the spring of 2019, Smith taught a freshman seminar in History entitled “Madness in America: A History from Lunancy to Mass Incarceration.” The Emory School of Nursing just published an insightful profile of Smith’s research and teaching: “A Different Set of Tools: Using the humanities to understand nursing’s role in social justice.” Read the full profile and see the description of the course below.

History 190: “Madness in America: A History from Lunancy to Mass Incarceration”

In this course we will explore the history of approaches to mental illness in the US, and consider the impact of this history for current issues in mental health. Topic areas include the culture of asylums, slavery and psychiatry, changing definitions and treatment practices, depictions of madness in popular culture, Civil Rights and patient rights, and trauma, war and the role of psychiatry in social control. We will visit the archives to explore journalist’s exposes and medical records as we attempt to uncover hidden histories of shame and stigma. We will seek to understand the experience and construction of “the patient” through the intersection of culture, politics and law, and ask critical questions about the nature of mental illness itself. Our goal in this course is to understand how historical attitudes shaped the development of policy and services, and how this impacts those with mental illness today. In this process we will explore the ethics of confinement of the mentally ill and analyze the troubled relationship between mental illness and criminality.

Deborah E. Lipstadt, Associated Faculty in History, Receives Cuttino Award for Distinguished Mentoring

Congratulations to Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, for receiving the George P. Cuttino Award for Distinguished Mentoring. The award is named in honor of the late George Peddy Cuttino, a member of Emory’s History Department from 1952 to 1984. Read more about Lipstadt’s distinguished record as a mentor and scholar here: “Cuttino Award honors historian Deborah Lipstadt for mentoring excellence.”

Deborah E. Lipstadt in ‘The Atlantic’: “Anti-Semitism Is Thriving in America”

Deborah E. Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies and Associated Faculty in the History Department, recently authored an article in The Atlantic. Lipstadt discusses increasing violence against Jews in the United States, including at the Chabad synagogue in Poway, California, and the escalation of anti-antisemitism in public discourse. She is, most recently, the author of Antisemitism: Here and Now (Schocken, 2019). Read an excerpt from her piece in The Atlantic below, as well as the full article: “Anti-Semitism Is Thriving in America: I assumed that, after the Holocaust, the world recognized where anti-Semitic rhetoric can lead. I was wrong.”

“In the wake of the Poway attack, law-enforcement officers, government officials, and the media kept stressing that the gunman had acted alone. They may have been trying to reassure the public, and in the narrowest technical terms, they may have been correct. 

“But this assailant was no lone wolf. He is part of a nexus of haters. The shooters in Charleston, Pittsburgh, Christchurch, and now Poway all relied on similar language and memes. The Christchurch and Poway shooters both posted manifestos prior to their rampages. They referred their social-media followers to some of the same websites and offered similar justifications for their actions.”

Carol Anderson Discusses History of Voter Suppression with Stacey Abrams and Leading Scholars at Library Company of Philadelphia

Dr. Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies, recently participated in a roundtable on the history of voter suppression at the Library Company of Philadelphia. Anderson is Associated Faculty in the History Department. Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 gubernatorial race in Georgia and who attributes the outcome to voter suppression, also participated in the conversation. Anderson is, most recently, the author of One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy (Bloomsbury, 2018). Read The New York Times‘ article about the gathering here: “For Stacey Abrams, a Date With History — or at Least the People Who Write It.”