Luther Adams

Luther Adams chairs the Ethnic, Gender and Labor Studies Major in the UWT’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, and teaches African-American and U.S. History. His book,
Way Up North in Louisville: African American Migrationin the Urban South, 1930-1970 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) offers a powerful reinterpretation of the modern civil rights movement and black urban life within the contexts of migration, work, and urban renewal. He documents persistent historical patterns of economic and racial inequality that but shows that inequality did not rob black people of their capacity to act in their own interests. Read his blog post on Louisville here.

Black Lives Matter!


Current Projects

Luther Adams brings his historical insights to his study of police brutality, which he describes this way:

Black and Blue: End Police Brutality, is a history of African Americans’ struggles with and against police brutality – at the same time it openly advocates for an end to police brutality. The struggle is as old as the police themselves, though this study focuses primarily on the twentieth century. The struggle with police brutality lay at the core of African American efforts to make freedom and equality real, spanning a range of political thought, activism and action. Police brutality was integral to white supremacy itself, enforcing black political, economic, and social subordination. Blacks were over policed and under protected, and police brutality, like lynching, used violence, fear, and impunity to keep blacks “in their place.”

This research effort to historicize police brutality is not only directed toward better understanding of the past, but also seeks to contribute to ending police brutality today. Ending police brutality necessitates a drastic change in the social, political and economic order violent police maintain(ed) – law and order must give way to justice and peace. In a post on the UNC Press website, Adams shares a speech that he delivered to the Black Student Union at UWT, the first and oldest UWT student organization, that explores the history of guns and gun violence and the effects of both on the African American community. 

This speech is also available under CSCS videos.

Prof. Adams is also working on a collection of essays called WE FUNK!: From the Bullet to the Ballot, From P-Funk to G-Funk, African American Culture and History in Late Twentieth Century America. Stay tuned for more historical insights and projects from Prof. Adams.


Past Events

"The Problem of Police Brutality and Racism in Perspective" 

Panel Discussion with Dr. Carolyn West and Dr. Luther Adams, January 15, 2015