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The Third Reconstruction: America’s Struggle for Racial Justice in the Twenty-First Century

February 9, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm


The Third Reconstruction: America's Struggle for Racial Justice in the Twenty-First Century

One of our preeminent historians of race and democracy argues that the period since 2008 has marked nothing less than America’s Third Reconstruction. 

In The Third Reconstruction, distinguished historian Peniel E. Joseph offers a powerful and personal new interpretation of recent history. The racial reckoning that unfolded in 2020, he argues, marked the climax of a Third Reconstruction: a new struggle for citizenship and dignity for Black Americans, just as momentous as the movements that arose after the Civil War and during the civil rights era. Joseph draws revealing connections and insights across centuries as he traces this Third Reconstruction from the election of Barack Obama to the rise of Black Lives Matter to the failed assault on the Capitol.

America’s first and second Reconstructions fell tragically short of their grand aims. Our Third Reconstruction offers a new chance to achieve Black dignity and citizenship at last—an opportunity to choose hope over fear.

Dr. Peniel Joseph holds a joint professorship appointment at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the History Department in the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. He is also the founding director of the LBJ School’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (CSRD). His career focus has been on “Black Power Studies,” which encompasses interdisciplinary fields such as Africana studies, law and society, women’s and ethnic studies, and political science.

This event is cosponsored with the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute’s Scott Hawkins Lecture Fund and the Dallas Literary Festival.

This event is co-sponsored by the Dallas Literary Festival. SMU will host the Dallas Literary Festival on campus, March 3-4, 2023. SMU has a long history of welcoming inspiring writers to campus. This event with Dr. Peniel Joseph on February 9 serves as a preview of the literary celebration to come in March!


February 9, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:15 pm