Refusing to Forget

A Collaborative Digital Humanities Project

This is a project that seeks to foster knowledge and awareness of racial violence along the US Mexican border in the early twentieth century, including by putting up historical markers, offering programming such as lesson plans and museum exhibits, and removing celebratory statues and plaques of the perpetrators of the violence. Although the victims of the time were of Mexican descent rather than African American, the resonances with questions of policing and race today are quite clear.

Review by Benjamin Johnson.

Visit Refusing to Forget’s Website.


Just Mercy, the Innocence Files, & Solitary

Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy) & The Innocence Project (The Innocence Files) & Albert Woodfox (Solitary)

Both of these resources address the racism deeply rooted in our criminal justice system. It is important to remember that the issue of racism transcends far beyond profiling by police in the streets. The criminal/judicial system has remained comfortable exercising deplorably discriminatory policies/practices. We must realize this and make a change. These resources will both shed a light on the reality of wrongful conviction (transcend any of mistaken identity or lack of evidence to the contrary of guilt) and the horrors of being Black in prison (and prison conditions in general).

Review by Grace Ruane

Get Solitary at Loyola University Library.

Get Just Mercy at Loyola University Library.

Watch The Innocence Files on Netflix.

Foul Means: The Formation of a Slave Society in Virginia, 1660-1740

Anthony S. Parent. Jr.

Parent argues that the settlers did not only fall into a slave society but instead they manipulated laws consistently to enslave Africans. It also deconstructs the myth that all the settlers were great men who knew exactly what they were doing.

Get this book at Loyola University Chicago Library.

Review By Casey Terry

You Never Forget Your First: a Biography of George Washington

Alexis Coe

Not only is historian Alexis Coe one of the only women to ever write a biography on George Washington, she’s one of the only female historians to do so in over one hundred years. Drawing back the curtain on one of America’s original “Great Men”, Coe engages with archival sources to reveal the man behind the mythic figure. For example, one of the most popular enduring (and silly) myths is of Washington’s teeth being wooden. The truth is far more ghastly; the teeth came from slaves. Coe’s analysis coupled with her accessible writing style makes this the perfect introduction into presidential biographies for those often intimidated by the male-dominated genre. Her writing challenges us to question as to how men of American history are molded and warped into mythic figures, propped up as infallible figures of god-like proportions. We’re asked to challenge our belief in these figures and how we use their legacy. This biography properly introduces us to George Washington as he was and challenges how we remember and learn about the American Revolution and the men who led it.

Get this book at Loyola University Chicago Library.

Review by Erin Witt

The American Police

Featuring Khalil Gibran Muhammad

On this hour-long episode of NPR podcast Throughline, Harvard professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad discusses the historic use of police brutality as a method for condemning and controlling the African American community. Muhammad draws context from his 2011 book, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America. He describes how slave patrols provided some of the earliest policing in the American colonies. After the Civil War, Southern states passed the Black Codes, which heavily restricted newly-freed slaves. The Black Codes evolved into the Jim Crow laws, which enforced segregation and fueled white supremacy. During the Great Migration of the 1920s and 1930s, black Americans fled to the North, hoping for a better life. However, the police in the North refused to help black Americans as they faced violence and discrimination from their white neighbors.

Muhammad demonstrates that the police have a long history of brutality and corruption in America. He concludes by reflecting on the death of George Floyd and offering his thoughts on what long-term changes need to be made to address police brutality in America.

Listen to this Podcast on NPR.

Review by Rachel Madden

Slavery by Another Name

Directed by Sam Pollard

This PBS documentary, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by the same name by Douglas A. Blackmon, examines the history of prison labor from the end of the Civil War into the 20th century and how it was designed to perpetuate forced labor along racial lines even after slavery had been abolished. It shows in vivid, gut-wrenching detail how an institution was created to serve a few over the needs and dignity of a great many, told through first-hand accounts, letters, newspapers, and a wide range of other contemporary sources.

Watch this documentary on youtube.

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

Directed by Julia Marchesi

Henry Louis Gates Jr. presents a vital new four-hour documentary series on Reconstruction: America After the Civil War. The series explores the transformative years following the American Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss, massive destruction, and revolutionary social change. The twelve years that composed the post-war Reconstruction era (1865-77) witnessed a seismic shift in the meaning and makeup of our democracy, with millions of former slaves and free black people seeking out their rightful place as equal citizens under the law. Though tragically short-lived, this bold democratic experiment was, in the words of W. E. B. Du Bois, a ‘brief moment in the sun’ for African Americans, when they could advance, and achieve, education, exercise their right to vote, and run for and win public office.

Watch this documentary on PBS.


Directed by: Ava DuVernay

What does it mean to be a criminal? This documentary investigates the racial disparities in the United States prison and justice system. A loophole in the 13th amendment that allows criminals to be enslaved, has been used in different iterations over the last 150 years to target communities of color, primarily Black. This documentary puts the criminalization of Black people as a continuation of American Chattel Slavery. The film argues that systemic racism not only exists in the justice system but does extreme damage to communities of color. 13th provides valuable context and exposes the roots of racial disparities in the United States justice system.

Watch this documentary on Netflix.