Keynote Speakers

Dr. Heather Ann Thompson

Frank W. Thompson Professor of History and African American Studies

Dr. Heather Ann Thompson is a historian at the University of Michigan, and is the Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy (Pantheon Books, 2016). Blood in the Water was also a finalist for the National Book Award and it won the Ridenhour Prize, the J. Willard Hurst Prize, the Public Information Award from the New York Bar Association, and received a rarely-given Honorable Mention for the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. Upon its release Blood in the Waterwas prominently reviewed and profiled in the New York Times in four different sections, and Thompson herself was profiled in the highly-coveted “Talk” section in the New York Times MagazineBlood in the Water ultimately landed on fourteen “Best of 2016” lists including the New York Times Most Notable Books of 2016 listand ones published by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Newsweek, Christian Science Monitor, the Boston Globe, and others. The book also received rave reviews in over 100 top popular publications, and Thompson appeared on over 25 television shows, including PBS Newshour, CBS Sunday Morning and the Daily Show, as well as on over 50 radio programs, including Sirius and NPR.

Heather Ann Thompson UM Profile

Heather Ann Thompson Website

Heather Ann Thompson headshot

Dr. Kevin Boyle

William Smith Mason Professor of American History at Northwestern University

Kevin Boyle (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1990) is an historian of the twentieth century United States, with a particular interest in modern American social movements. 

His most recent book is The Shattering: America in the 1960s, a narrative history of the decade whose conflicts shattered America’s postwar order and divide us still. His other books include The UAW and the Heyday of American Liberalism, 1945-1968; Muddy Boots and Ragged Aprons: Images of Working-Class Detroit, 1900-1930 (with Victoria Getis); Organized Labor and American Politics, 1894-1994; and Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age, which received the National Book Award for nonfiction, The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize, and the Simon Weisenthal Center’s Tolerance Book Award. It was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and was selected for community-wide reading programs in the Detroit metropolitan area and the state of Michigan. He has published essays and reviews in The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Detroit Free Press,and Chicago and Cobblestone magazines. He has held fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the Andrew Carnegie Corporation.

Boyle is currently at work on The Splendid Dead, a micro-history of political extremism and repression in the early twentieth century.  He teaches undergraduate courses on modern United States history, the civil rights movement, and racial violence and graduate courses in twentieth century American history, working-class history, and narrative history.

Kevin Boyle Faculty Webpage

Kevin Boyle Website

Kevin Boyle Headshot

Dr. Randal Maurice Jelks

Professor of African and African American Studies and American Studies at the University of Kansas

Randal Maurice Jelks is Professor of African and African American Studies and American Studies. He is the author of the two award-winning books African Americans in the Furniture City: The Struggle for Civil Rights Struggle in Grand Rapids and Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement: A Biography. His latest book is titled Faith and Struggle in the Lives of Four African Americans: Ethel Waters, Mary Lou Williams, Eldridge Cleaver and Muhammad Ali. Jelks has recently contributed to a collection of essays titled 42 Today: Jack Robinson and His Legacy edited by Michael Long. His forthcoming book is Letters to Martin: Meditations on Democracy in Black America (Lawrence Hill Books, Chicago, November 2, 2021). His writings have appeared in the Boston Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books as well as blogs, journals, newspapers, and periodicals. He is the co-editor of the academic journal American Studies. Jelks serves an executive producer of a documentary film I, Too, Sing America: Langston Hughes Unfurled directed by Kevin Willmott, 2019 Academy Award co-winner best screenplay adaptation BlacKkKlansman.

Randal Maurice Jelks Website

Randal Maurice Jelks headshot

Page last modified February 22, 2023