Keri Leigh Merritt

"Soulsville" mural in Memphis, Tennessee.

Capitalism and (Under)Development in the American South

In the American South, an oligarchy of planters enriched itself through slavery. Pervasive underdevelopment is their legacy.
Lithograph of African Americans gathering the dead and wounded from the Colfax Massacre in Louisiana, on April 13, 1873, originally published in Harper's Weekly.

The 1873 Colfax Massacre Was a Racist Attack on Black People’s Democratic Rights

In northern Louisiana, white supremacists slaughtered 150 African Americans, brutally thwarting their hopes for autonomy and self-governance.

History, Civil Rights and the Original Cancel Culture

The initial movement to build memorials to the Confederacy and its supposed “lost cause” were the original cancel culture.

"Poor Whites Have Been Written out of History for a Very Political Reason"

For generations, Southern white elites have been terrified of poor whites and black workers joining hands.

Why We Need a New Civil War Documentary

The success and brilliance of the new PBS series on Reconstruction is a reminder of the missed opportunity facing the nation.

War Happens in Dark Places, Too

White southern men who didn't own slaves often escaped to the swamps to avoid conscription and wait out the Civil War.

The Myth of a Southern Democracy

Voter suppression tactics have roots in Southern history dating to the Antebellum era.
Roy Moore with a cowboy hat, gun, and microphone, in front of an American flag.

The Reason Roy Moore Won in Alabama That No One is Talking About

Centuries of economic inequality have left Southern politics ripe for insurgent outsiders.

Aaron Alpeoria Bradley and Black Power during Reconstruction

Black power, and the causes it supports, began long before the official Black Power movement.

A Dual Emancipation

How black freedom benefited poor whites.

It’s Time for Historians of Slavery to Listen to Economists

Economic analyses of the antebellum era upend the notion that Southern whites were united in their support of slavery.
A line of prison laborers by a railroad.

“One Continuous Graveyard”: Emancipation and the Birth of the Professional Police Force

After emancipation, prison labor replaced slavery as a way for white Southerners to enforce a racial hierarchy.

Land and The Roots of African-American Poverty

Land redistribution could have served as the primary means of reparations for former slaves. Instead, it did exactly the opposite.