Annual Great Lakes History Conference to explore 'Division and Reaction'
Lending historical context to concerns about the fragility of
democracy, particularly in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the
U.S. Capitol, is the focus of the 48th annual Great Lakes History Conference at
The conference, which is free and open to the public, will be held
October 5-7 on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. Participants are asked to
register for events.
The keynotes and panels will address topics under the conference's
theme, “Division and Reaction.” Organizers have sought to help those
who attend the conference to understand democracy's tumultuous history
and fears about its longevity which go all the back to ancient Greece.
The conference will be held at the DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills
While the United States has always been split, the current divisions
in the country have created fears around talking about diversity and
both the good and bad in American history, said Scott Stabler,
professor of history and one of the conference organizers.
"History tells us we're pretty divided right now, more so than
in a long time, probably since the Civil War," Stabler said.
The conference features a keynote each day, with a Pulitzer Prize
winner starting off the slate of speakers, which will all be featured
in the Loosemore Auditorium:
October 5, 7 p.m.: Heather Ann Thompson, the Frank
W Thompson Collegiate professor of History and Afroamerican and
African Studies at the University of Michigan who also won the
Pulitzer Prize for history, will give a presentation titled “The
Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Why it Matters Today.”
October 6, 7 p.m.: National Book Award winner Kevin
Boyle, William Smith Mason professor of American History at
Northwestern University, will give a presentation entitled “Blood
Ties: An Intimate History of Political Violence in Twentieth Century America.”
October 7, 1 p.m.: Randal Maurice Jelks, professor
of African and African American Studies and American Studies at the
University of Kansas, will be presenting on “Meditations on
Democracy in Black America” and will explain how “creative
maladjustment” is a way for democracies to flourish.