Dr. Holloway Returns to Parker

By History and Social Studies Co-Chair Andrew Bigelow

For one of the culminating experiences in U.S. History I, we asked Dr. Jonathan Holloway to provide an analysis of the 12 years of Reconstruction and its legacy. Parker parent emeriti Dr. Holloway has been a professor of history at Yale University and is currently the Provost at Northwestern University.

Upper School history teachers Sue Elliott, Jeanne Barr and I finished the first semester with Reconstruction and plan to start the second semester with a month-long unit on the legacy of Reconstruction in America—the rise of Jim Crow, legalized segregation, lynchings, the Great Migration, sharecropping, civil rights, civil disobedience, “The New Jim Crow,” mass incarceration, the election of President Barack Obama and our current status on race in America. Dr. Holloway presented an interesting history and perspective for juniors taking U.S. History I. He framed his discussion by playing Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” and finished with an analysis of the 1915 film Birth of a Nation. Dr. Holloway provided a wealth of information on the violence and intensity around lynchings, the legacy of slavery and the few steps forward during Reconstruction, which quickly ended with the Compromise of 1877 (when Hayes became president and the military occupation of the South ended). Dr. Holloway will return this spring to discuss the Civil Rights Movement with students in my spring elective.

We are excited to have his expertise and wealth of knowledge to enhance our education. Dr. Holloway helped us understand the value of using history to understand the recent rise of white supremacy during the first year of the Obama presidency and where it sadly stands today.

Below I have included two summaries of his lecture:

Between 1865 and 1877, several plans were developed that would readmit the Confederate states to the Union and give the residents of the states full citizenship rights. It was far from clear, however, which plan would do a better job maintaining the social peace and protecting African Americans’ ability to earn a wage, raise a family, own land and exercise the right to vote. In this lecture, Dr. Holloway outlined the contours of the Ten Percent Plan, Presidential Reconstruction and Radical Reconstruction, and he explained how these plans embraced a variety of approaches to reuniting the disparate states. He shared that Reconstruction greatly enhanced the rights of African Americans, while also circumscribing their lives through new political, economic and social initiatives.

After the massive cultural shift the South endured under Reconstruction, white Southerners were determined to fight back. In this lecture, Dr. Holloway discussed the complicated meaning of Redemption as white Southerners rose up, reclaimed and redeemed that which they thought was theirs. During this era, African Americans experienced extreme forms of violence as whites guaranteed the return of power, including the resurgence of the KKK, as well as gerrymandering and poll taxes to ensure the elimination of blacks as a voting class. In the second half of the lecture, Dr. Holloway focused on the ideas of civilization and manliness, lynchings and anti-lynching campaigns. Fears of rape and ideas of white womanhood frequently served as the justification for the systematic psychological and economic terrorism of African Americans during the “Rise of Redemption.”

Click here for photos of his visit.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.