Kidada E. Williams

Kidada E. Williams

Associate Professor


 3069 Faculty/Administration Building

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Kidada E. Williams

Kidada E. Williams is an expert on African American history, who researches black people's lived experiences of racist violence. 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 has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition," 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 Charleson's Emanuel AME Church.

Lately, she has been extending her commitment to public humanities work by sharing her expertise on histories 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 a documentary on Reconstruction. 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.

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

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 Hero. Bridge Magazine

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

Account for the Pillaging of African-American Freedom

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

Currently Teaching

  • African American History I (AFS/HIS 3140) 3 credits F17 & W18

  • Theory and Methods (HIS 7830) 3 credits F17

  •  The Historian's Craft: Detroit 1967 (HIS 3000) 3 credits W18

Courses taught

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)