1st Edition

Racism on Campus A Visual History of Prominent Virginia Colleges and Howard University

By Stephen C. Poulson Copyright 2021
    260 Pages 8 Color & 83 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    260 Pages 8 Color & 83 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    260 Pages 8 Color & 83 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Drawing on content from yearbooks published by prominent colleges in Virginia, this book explores changes in race relations that have occurred at universities in the United States since the late 19th century. It juxtaposes the content published in predominantly White university yearbooks to that published by Howard University, a historically Black college. The study is a work of visual sociology, with photographs, line drawings and historical prints that provide a visual account of the institutional racism that existed at these colleges over time. It employs Bonilla-Silva’s concept of structural racism to shed light on how race ordered all aspects of social life on campuses from the period of post-Civil War Reconstruction to the present. It examines the lives of the Black men and women who worked at these schools and the racial attitudes of the White men and women who attended them. As such, Racism on Campus will appeal to scholars of sociology, history and anthropology with interests in race, racism and visual methods.

    1. Using Visual Sociology to Study Institutional Racism at Virginia Universities

    2. Jim Crow Racism on Campus: Post-Civil War Reconstruction to World War II (1890-1942)

    3. Academic Culture and Race Perspectives at Howard University before World War II (1914-1941)

    4. Resistance to Racial Integration at Virginia Colleges after World War II (1945-2000)

    5. Social Movement Activism at Howard University and Virginia Colleges

    6. Conclusion and Future Questions: The Case for Reparations


    Stephen C. Poulson is Professor of Sociology at James Madison University, USA. He is the author of Why Would Anyone Do That? Lifestyle Sport in the Twenty-First Century and Social Movements in Twentieth-Century Iran: Culture, Ideology and Mobilizing Frameworks.

    ‘As the political debate around campus culture in the US grows, this book investigates the evolution of race relations in Virginia universities and Howard University. Relying on visual sociology and the conceptual framework of structural racism, Poulson examines university yearbooks to document the longevity of racism on campuses in Virginia. His argument for reparations is convincing and should be widely discussed inside and outside academia.’ - Gianluca De Fazio, James Madison University, USA

    ‘We live in a world where some of our elected leaders used Black face in college. Why? Stephen C. Poulson's Racism on Campus is a compelling, if sobering, answer to this question. Poulson's historical analysis of yearbooks and other campus publications at Virginia universities shows that our colleges have long been the home of such unethical practices. Racism on Campus is excellent visual sociology and powerful social critique.’ - Fabio Rojas, Indiana University, USA

    'Stephen Poulson’s visual sociological study of annual yearbooks published at 11 Virginia colleges and university campuses reveals students’ contributions to the maintenance of cultures of white supremacy. Yearbook images from these ivory towers contrast sharply with the values of students at Howard University, located in the nation’s capital, in some cases, just miles away. The professionalism of Howard University’s yearbooks exemplify the leadership roles these African American students envisioned for themselves and their faculty in advocating for a society that embraced equity. Students at Virginia’s all-white institutions of higher learning, as seen in images and cartoons of local KKK chapters, Blackface theater productions, and everyday campus activities project a confidence grounded in a world of privilege unchanged from that of former alumni. College years are critical to the personal and professional formation of young adults. We are reminded through Poulson’s ground-breaking study that racism dominated the hidden curricula of Virginia’s premier colleges and universities throughout the twentieth century. Furthermore, these pictures propel us to open our eyes and ask whether this historical visual language persists today.' - P. Preston Reynolds, University of Virginia

    '...echoes today’s divide on race issues between those who embrace myth-making narratives of the past and those who demand and seek a full accounting of institutional racism. Poulson demonstrates how racialized violence, stereotypical imagery, and the reinforcement of a racialized social order are not relics of the past but persist.' – Kathrin Parks, Social Forces