St. Petersburg native and Williams College professor Charles B. Dew is one of America’s most respected historians of the South. In his recent memoir, The Making of a Racist: A Southerner Reflects on Family, History, and the Slave Trade, he turns the focus on his own life, recreating the midcentury American South of his childhood.
In many respects, the St. Petersburg of a generation ago was a boy’s paradise, but one stained by the full brunt of Jim Crow. Through entertainments and “educational” books that belittled African Americans, as well as the living examples of his own family, Dew was indoctrinated in white supremacy. In this lecture and discussion, Dew shows how the South of his childhood came into being, poisoning the minds even of honorable people, and what we gain by acknowledging this history and moving forward.