In light of Wednesday's start of Black History Month, we caught up with Hamm, the chairman of journalism and new media studies at St. Joseph's College in New York City. His newest book is Frederick Douglass in Brooklyn, a collection of some of the slave-turned-abolitionist's speeches. Hamm decided to begin the project after perusing the archives of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a 19th century publication whose best-known editor was Walt Whitman. "My poking around led me to speeches made by Frederick Douglass in Brooklyn,'' he said. "Douglass and well-known figures at the time intersected at notable places in Brooklyn. People have a sense he was here, but they don't know what he said. It never really shows up in most accounts, and I felt it was an interesting part of Brooklyn's history, and the connection it has with leading local abolitionists.''
What's on your nightstand?
I've got Confronting Black Jacobins by Gerald Horne. It's about the Haitian Revolution, the slave revolt and how it affected what happened here in the U.S. I'm currently reading This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy by Matthew Karp.
What do you think so far?
It's good. Historians typically portray them as aristocrats who weren't modern in their approach to economics and politics, but they were trying to build an empire with slavery as a central component. I also have one other book, The Cause of All Nations by Don H. Doyle. It comes from another perspective. If England and France gave support to the Confederacy, the outcome of the war would have been different.
What books would you encourage American citizens to read when it comes to race relations?
I always have an affinity for autobiographies like Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. There's also The Autobiography of Malcolm X. It is a classic. There's also Barack Obama's memoirs, The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father. I think Obama's memoirs give us insight into a far more literary president than the current one.
Contact Piper Castillo at email@example.com. Follow @Florida_PBJC.