Kidada E. Williams

Kidada E. Williams

Associate Professor


 3069 Faculty/Administration Building

Curriculum Vitae

Kidada E. Williams

Kidada E. Williams is a nationally recognized expert on African Americans' lived experiences of racist violence. Here at Wayne State, she teaches courses on African American and American history and historical research methods.

Her clear-eyed understanding of the history and politics surrounding the study and teaching of African American history informs Williams's commitment to sharing her knowledge with broad audiences. She gives lectures and talks at public institutions including the Wright Museum, Detroit Historical Museum, the Henry Ford Museum, America's Civil War Museum and shares historical information on social media. She contributes to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes, which help K-12 teachers broaden their understandings of U.S. history and develop new strategies for teaching challenging subject matter. She has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "On Point," WDET's "Detroit Today" with Stephen Henderson, "BackStory with the American History Guys," and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, DAME, Slate, and Bridge Magazine.

Williams is also one of the co-developers of #CharlestonSyllabus, a crowd-sourced project that helped people understand the historical context surrounding the 2015 racial massacre at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church.

Lately, she has been extending her commitment to African American public humanities by sharing her expertise on survivors of anti-black violence on podcasts, documentaries, and television series. She was a guest contributor to the Slate Academy history series on Reconstruction. She is also lending her insight to documentaries on Reconstruction and southern lynchings. Someday, she hopes to produce short historical films on African American history.

Research Interest/Area of Expertise

  • U.S. History

  •  African American History

  •  History of Violence


Williams investigates African Americans' experiences of and responses to racist violence--from threats and intimidation to rape, night riding, and lynching. She is the author of They Left Great Marks on Me, which explores Black southerners’ testimonies of violence from emancipation to World War I. She has also published "Never Get Over It,"  "Maintaining a Radical Vision of African Americans in the Age of Freedom," "The Wounds that Cried Out," and "The Aftermaths of Lynching." Her research has been supported twice by fellowships from the Ford Foundation.

Williams is completing her second book. Tentatively titled When the White Men Came, it examines the impact of Ku Klux Klan strikes on African American families after the Civil War. In the second half of 2018, she will shift to researching interpersonal violence, including rape, in African American communities.

Graduate Research Supervision
Williams would be interested in supervising graduate students who wish to work on any topic relating to her research interests. She also welcomes proposals relating to broader African American history.

Williams is best suited to supervise students who already have the makings of a comprehensive research agenda, including a likely research question, archive identified, and some knowledge of the historiography for the specific subject. Students wishing to learn more about how to craft a research agenda would do well to read and model the best research practices spelled out in Jules Benjamin's A Student's Guide to History and Wayne C. Booth et al, eds.,  The Craft of Research.

Education – Degrees, Licenses, Certifications

  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2005
  • M.A., Central Michigan University, 1998
  • B.S., Central Michigan University, 1996

Awards and Grants

  • Career Development Chair, Wayne State University, 2014
    Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award, Wayne State University, 2013
    President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Wayne State University, 2011
    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Award for Teaching, Wayne State University, 2011
    Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship Competition, Wayne State University, 2011
    Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2008
    Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, “Topographies of Violence” Residency Research Grant, The University of Michigan, Fall 2008
    Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for Minorities, 2002

Selected Publications

They Left Great Marks on Me: African American Testimonies of Racial Violence from Emancipation to World War I. New York University Press, 2012.

Edited Books
With Chad Williams and Keisha N. Blain, Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence. University of Georgia Press, 2016.

A portion of the royalties will go to the Lowcountry Ministries Fund to address issues of social justice and economic empowerment in underserved communities in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Articles and Chapters

"Never Get Over It: Night Riding's Imprint on Its African American Victims," in Reconstruction and the Arc of Racial (in)Justice Edward Elgar, 2018.

"Maintaining a Radical Vision of African Americans in the Age of Freedom," Journal of the Civil War Era 7:1 (2017).

"The Wounds that Cried Out: Reckoning with African Americans' Testimonies of Trauma and Suffering from Nightriding" in Gregory Downs and Kate Masur, eds. The World the Civil War Made. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

"Regarding the Aftermaths of Lynching," Journal of American History 101:4 (2014).

Select Public Scholarship and Appearances

Respectfully Yours, Gainer Atkins, BackStory Radio

The Psychic Toll of Night Rides, Slate

With Danielle L. McGuire, Raped and left on the road, she said #MeToo. Jurors said, 'No, not You.' and Say Her Name. Shawana Hall. She is a HeroBridge Magazine

The Difference 10 Miles Makes, BackStory Radio 

Centuries of Violence (on the massacre at Charleston's AME Church), Slate

Account for the Pillaging of African-American Freedom, New York Times

Trayvon Martin killing: The legacy of extralegal racial violence continues on, NYU Press

Currently Teaching

  • African American History I (AFS/HIS 3140) 3 credits F18 & F19

  • Theory and Methods (HIS 7830) 3 credits F18

Courses taught

Historian's Craft: Detroit 1967 (HIS 3000)

African American History & Memory (HIS 5261/7261) Topics covered: Slavery & Freedom; Civil Rights; Black Detroit; Detroit 1967

African American History II (AFS/HIS 3150)

Civil War and Reconstruction (HIS 5040/7040)

American Slavery (HIS 5241/7241)