What Are the Biggest Problems Women Face Today?

By Politico Magazine | March 8, 2019


One of the greatest challenges women in the U.S. and women throughout the world face today are increasing rates of maternal mortality. According to the World Health Organization, 830 women die every day from “preventable causes related to pregnancy.” These statistics are even more staggering in developing countries and among women of color in the United States. Black women in particular are the most affected, dying at a ratio of 25.1 deaths per 100,000. According to the Journal of Perinatal Education, the rates for black women did not improve between 1980 and 1990, and these rates are not much better today. Some believe such disparities occur because of a racially divided society in which black women experience higher levels of stress and marginalization causing many of their health concerns to go unrecognized. This leads to untimely and preventable deaths. Read more...

Engineering meets history with Daina Ramey Berry

By Alexandra George | February 18, 2019


Engineering often involves interpretation of a problem, data, or methods to reach creative solutions. Similarly, history involves interpretation: understanding previous events that can teach us valuable lessons to help shape the future. Both engineers and historians are hard at work to solve some of the most challenging problems facing us today, though in different ways.

As part of Black History Month activities at Carnegie Mellon, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) recently co-hosted the visit of distinguished historian and acclaimed author Professor Daina Ramey Berry. She is the Oliver H. Radkey Regents Professor of History at UT Austin, and speaks and writes about various dimensions of slavery, especially women and slavery. Her work seeks to humanize a group of people who are often treated as objects by bringing to light individuals and their personal stories. Read more...

'White privilege’ in America: The blissful ignorance of Ralph Northam

By Jonathan Capehart | February 12, 2019


Seeing the picture on the medical school yearbook page of now-Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was a gut punch. A man in blackface standing next to someone else dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. That same 1984 keepsake from Eastern Virginia Medical School also featured students in other racist and offensive images. Three years earlier, under his otherwise stately photograph in the 1981 yearbook of the Virginia Military Institute, Northam listed one of his nicknames as “Coonman,” a racial slur that evokes the worst caricature of African American men. One wonders if this was a sanitized version of a harsher moniker for someone having black friends.

When the stunning Northam story broke, countless political observers commented that Northam’s 2017 Republican challenger Ed Gillespie should get his money back from his opposition research team. How could they miss something so incendiary, so blatantly racist? How could they resist making something public something that would brand a hypocrite the Democrat roasting Gillespie’s rather Trumpian white nationalist campaign? For that matter, how could Northam and his own team not see this coming? Read more...

A Reading List for Ralph Northam

By Ibram X. Kendi | February 12, 2019


In the years before he became Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam apparently chose not to read books in which blackface was present. “I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put under my—or on my—cheeks,” he said about the day he impersonated Michael Jackson in blackface. “I look back now and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that.”

Now, as governor, Northam is choosing not to heed calls for his resignation. He is denying he’s pictured on his medical-school yearbook page in blackface or in a Ku Klux Klan outfit above the notation of his alma mater, his interests in pediatrics, and his quote advocating having “another beer.” Read more...

New Books in African American Studies

By Adam McNeil | January 24, 2019


Scholarly interest in the institution of American slavery is enjoying a kind of resurgence. Researchers are examining heretofore rarely (or never) studied aspects of slavery. One such new frontier is the history of sexuality and slavery. Two scholars at the forefront movement are Drs. Daina Ramey Berry and Leslie Harris. Drs. Berry and Harris’s recent edited volume, Sexuality and Slavery: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas (University of Georgia Press, 2018), brings together a variety of scholars working on the ways in which slavery and sexuality interacted, and whose efforts combine to show that sexuality was in some ways more central to the history of slavery in the Americas than has been thought. Read more...

Eight UT Austin Faculty Members Named Recipients of the 2018-19 President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award

By UT News | January 24, 2019


AUSTIN, Texas — Eight University of Texas at Austin faculty members are being highlighted for their work and have been named recipients of the annual President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award for the 2018-19 academic year. The award recognizes the university’s educational innovators who demonstrate exceptional undergraduate teaching in the core curriculum, including signature courses, and engage with curriculum reform and educational innovation.

“These eight faculty members have dedicated themselves to teaching and mentoring,” said Gregory L. Fenves, president of UT Austin. “They build connections with their students and strive to unlock their potential with knowledge and creativity.”

The awards are made possible by contributions from the President’s Associates — friends of the university who are committed to advancing education and research at UT Austin. Each recipient will receive a monetary award of $5,000 and will be honored at a dinner during the spring semester. Read more...

Not How I Learned It: Rediscovering and Redefining Slave Values in America

By Adrienne Dawson | December 14, 2018


Historian and professor Daina Ramey Berry teaches in the History and African & African Diaspora Studies departments at The University of Texas at Austin and has received the Hamilton Book Award for her latest work, “The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation.”

Here, she tells us how 10 years of research led to discoveries that force us to relearn what we thought we knew about slavery in America — such as a slave cadaver trade that supplied America’s top medical schools and trained future surgeons. Read more...

Here lies a Northwest Dallas graveyard you've never seen for the forgotten and formerly enslaved

By Robert Wilonsky | September 29, 2018


A historical marker off West Northwest Highway, near Bachman Lake, notes only a visible, accessible graveyard — the small Garvin Memorial Cemetery, where several Confederate States soldiers are interred.

The bronze plaque bears no mention of the other burial ground just yards away. The site is obscured by underbrush on private property adjacent to a panoramic, if little-known, city-owned nature preserve, surrounded by a wrought-iron fence.

There, inside that containment, it is believed that at least 10 are buried — former enslaved people among them, along with "other Negroes" referred to in a landmark-nomination form on file with Dallas City Hall.

I have written about the graveyard before, but only in passing. Nothing denotes the significance of what lies within the tall grass behind a private home's detached garage. No headstones commemorate the dead. There are just posts sticking out of the ground, planted by the home's former owner, G.H. Kelso, "in reverence to the individuals buried there." Read more...

Yale announces 2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize finalists

July 26, 2018


Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition today has announced the finalists for the 20th annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize, one of the most coveted awards for the study of the African American experience. Jointly sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at the MacMillan Center at Yale University, this annual prize of $25,000 recognizes the best book on slavery, resistance, and/or abolition published in the preceding year.

The finalists are: Daina Ramey Berry for “The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation” (Beacon Press); Erica Armstrong Dunbar for “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge” (Simon & Schuster); Sharla M. Fett for “Recaptured Africans: Surviving Slave Ships, Detention, and Dislocation in the Final Years of the Slave Trade” (University of North Carolina Press); and Tiya Miles for “The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits” (The New Press). Read more...

Daina Ramey Berry's "Price for Their Pound of Flesh" wins Best Book Prize from the Society of Historians of Early American Republic (SHEAR)

By UT History Department | July 24, 2018


Congratulations to Professor Daina Ramey Berry on winning the prestigious Best Book Prize from the Society of Historians of Early American Republic (SHEAR) for her book The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved from Womb to the Grave, in the Building of the Nation (Boston: Beacon Press, 2017). This annual prize recognizes "an original monograph that makes a significant contribution to the historiography of the early American republic." The SHEAR selection committee’s complete citation in praise of this "revelatory new book" can be found below.

Dr. Berry was recently interviewed by "On Point" about the history and significance of the Juneteenth holiday. She also contributed to the CWR Network's virtual town hall on “Race In America: Where Do We Go From Here.” Read about Prof. Berry's lastest news and publications at, and for up-to-date insights, follow her on Twitter @DainaRameyBerry.

The Price for Their Pound of Flesh is also a finalist for the 2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, awarded annually by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, for the most outstanding non-fiction book in English on the subject of slavery, resistance, and/or abolition. The winner will be announced following the Douglass Prize Review Committee meeting in the fall, and the award will be presented at a celebration in New York City on February 28, 2019. Read more...