James T. Campbell describes himself as “an historian of the Black Atlantic.” His research explores American, African American, and African history and the dense web of connections between them. His GREAT Day keynote, entitled "Freedom Now: The Mississippi Freedom Movement in History and Memory," will use the history of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement (and of the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project in particular) to illuminate the ongoing struggle over how Americans remember and recount their racial past. The talk will examine not only historical textbooks and monographs, but also a wide array of alternative sites where historical memory is produced and disseminated, including museums and monuments, historic sites and Hollywood movies, memorial services and criminal trials.
Dr. Campbell is the Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History at Stanford University. He previously taught at Northwestern University, Wits University (in Johannesburg, South Africa), and Brown University, where he chaired the University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, a committee tasked by then President Ruth Simmons to examine and disclose the facts of Brown’s historic relationship to slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. He credits this experience with awakening his interest in the politics of historical memory. Dr. Campbell also serves as one of the consulting historians for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, opening in Washington DC in 2016.
Dr. Campbell has published numerous books and articles, including Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa; Race, Nation, and Empire in American History; and Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005, which was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History. He is currently working on a study of the Mississippi Freedom Movement in history and memory, the topic of his keynote address.