Current events lead Australians to ask, “What does it mean to be American?” The story of the African American past demonstrates the difficulty of answering this seemingly simple question. If being “American” means living in a land of freedom and opportunity, what are we to make of those Americans who were enslaved and who have suffered from the limitations of second-class citizenship throughout their lives? African American history illuminates the United States’ core paradox, inviting profound questions about what it means to be an American, a citizen, and a human being.

To understand how America arrived at this particularly fraught moment in its history, USSC hosted a webinar event featuring Dr Jonathan Holloway, President of Rutgers University and author of African American History, 1619-Black Lives Matter (forthcoming) in conversation with United States Studies Centre CEO Professor Simon Jackman and Senior Fellow Dr Charles Edel.

Jonathan Holloway is President-designate of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Most recently, he served as Provost of Northwestern University. Before moving to Northwestern, he was the Dean of Yale College from 2014-2017. He is a professor of History and African American Studies. Holloway’s scholarship focuses on post-emancipation social and cultural American history. He is the author of Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941 and Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1940.