2022 WSU Juneteenth Keynote Address: Did Slave Revolution Win the Civil War?

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Date: June 15, 2022
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Location: David Adamany Undergraduate Library - Bernath Auditorium
Category: Special event

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Dr. Errol A. Henderson, a Wayne State University graduate, will give the Juneteenth keynote address entitled: Did Slave Revolution Win the Civil War? 


How did the freedom that Juneteenth celebrates actually emerge? The great scholar/activist W.E.B. DuBois argued that it emerged mainly from the actions of slaves who orchestrated a general strike to deny resources to the Confederacy; and the roughly 200,000 enslaved and free blacks who fought with the Union military to defeat the Confederacy. By transforming the Union's initial war aims from ending the South's secession to overturning centuries of chattel slavery, these African Americans effected a revolution to establish freedom and provide a basis for multiracial democracy in the United States.


Errol A. Henderson is an Associate Professor of International Relations (IR) at Pennsylvania State University. He earned a Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1993 after graduating magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in Political Science from Wayne State University.

Henderson was born and raised in the Brewster Projects on the near eastside of Detroit.

By 19, he was already a veteran of the US Army; and by 20 he helped reconstitute the historic but dormant Association of Black Students (ABS) as a leading activist organization on Wayne State’s campus. The ABS would tutor some of Detroit’s most committed student and community activists of the period.

He was a noted student and community activist and he helped lead two successful student movements; the first, in 1987 in response to systemic white supremacism and specific racist threats against black women on the campus of the University of Michigan led to profound changes at the university (aka the UCAR/BAMIII student movement). Henderson also helped lead an extended protest, the eleven-day “Study-In” building occupation at Wayne State University in 1989, involving more than 200 students, which led to the creation of a long-sought-after Department of Africana Studies.

Henderson served as the Director of Peace Programs for a community-based non-profit organization, Save Our Sons and Daughters (SOSAD), which consisted of the families and friends of children killed in Detroit. Henderson helped organize, develop, and extend the peace programs under the leadership of SOSAD’s founder, Clementine Barfield, who was the survivor of her teenage child’s homicide. He helped establish SOSAD chapters throughout the country; participated in the National Urban Peace and Justice Summit (the Gang Summit) in 1993 which brought together over 200 gang members from 22 different cities to attempt to implement a national truce.

As a scholar, he has authored approximately 50 scholarly publications including five books. He has an international reputation as a scholar of war and peace; and is one of the leading scholars of racism and anti-racism in world politics. He has presented his work abroad in the UK, France, and South Africa, as well as universities throughout North America. He is presently working on two books: (1) on the role of white supremacism in International Relations; and (2) on gender and the Urban Peace and Justice Movement of the 1980s-90s in the US.

His recent book, The Revolution will not be Theorized: Cultural Revolution in the Black Power Era, which he’ll discuss today, examines the relationship between black cultural revolution and black political revolution in the US, with a particular focus on the Black Power Movement (BPM). He argues that one of the most important examples of black revolutionary struggle in the US is also the most ignored—by both historians and revolutionists, themselves: the Slave Revolution of the US Civil War. Understanding its example is essential to appreciate the challenges, potential, and prospects for Black Power—then, and now.

The book is available free online through the TOME Initiative via this link: https://muse.jhu.edu/book/67098

June 2022