Field & Specialties
20th Century US
Ph.D., Indiana University (2008)
B.A., Kenyon College (2001)
My research focuses on the social, political, and environmental history of land use, real estate, and racial inequality in the 20th century United States. I teach courses on modern African American history, race and real estate, and urban America. I am the author of The Land Was Ours: How Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South (UNC Press), which was awarded the 2013 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award from the Organization of American Historians, and Free the Beaches: The Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America's Most Exclusive Shoreline (Yale UP). I have published articles in the Journal of American History, Journal of Urban History, Journal of Southern History, Journal of Social History, Southern Cultures, Critical Sociology, and Transatlantica. I am currently writing a book on the history of discriminatory property tax assessments, predatory tax lien speculation, and the struggles of African American property owners from Reconstruction to the present, and direct a National Park Service study of African American outdoor recreation.
Free the Beaches: The Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America's Most Exclusive Shoreline
The Land Was Ours: How Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South
“From Commons to Capital: The Creative Destruction of Coastal Real Estate, Environments, and Communities in the US South,” Transatlantica, special issue “Places and Cultures of Capitalism,” 2 (2020), https://doi.org/10.4000/transatlantica.16278
“Capitalizing on the Urban Fiscal Crisis: Predatory Tax Buyers in 1970s Chicago,” Journal of Urban History, 44 (May 2018), 382-401
"Unconscionable: Tax Delinquency Sales as a Form of Dignity Taking," Chicago-Kent Law Review, 92 (2017), 905-35
“Investing in Distress: Tax Delinquency and Predatory Tax Buying in Urban America,” Critical Sociology, 43 (March 2017), 199-219
“The Power to Destroy: Property Tax Discrimination in Civil Rights-Era Mississippi,” Journal of Southern History, 82 (Aug. 2016), 579-616
“Fear of an Open Beach: Public Rights and Private Interests in 1970s Coastal Connecticut,” Journal of American History, 102 (Sept. 2015), 433-62
“The Sunbelt’s Sandy Foundation: Coastal Development and the Making of the Modern South,” Southern Cultures, 20 (Fall 2014), 24-42
“The ‘Negro Park’ Question: Land, Labor, and Leisure in Pitt County, North Carolina, 1920-1930,” Journal of Southern History, 79 (Feb. 2013), 113-42
“Sunbelt by the Sea: Governing Race and Nature in a Twentieth-Century Coastal Metropolis,” Journal of Urban History, 38 (May 2012), 488-508
“The Political Work of Leisure: Class, Recreation, and African American Commemoration at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, 1881–1931,” Journal of Social History, 42 (Oct. 2008), 57-77
“‘The Slightest Semblance of Unruliness’: Steamboat Excursions, Pleasure Resorts, and the Emergence of Segregation Culture on the Potomac River, 1890–1920,” Journal of American History, 94 (March 2008), 1108-36
Essays in Edited Collections
"The Short End of Both Sticks: Property Assessments and Black Taxpayer Disadvantage in Urban America," in Shaped by the State: Toward a New Political History of the Twentieth Century, ed. Brent Cebul, Lily Geismer, and Mason B. Williams (University of Chicago Press, 2019), pp. 189-217
“Numbers and New Negroes at the Beach: At Work and Play Outside the Black Metropolis,” in Escape from New York: The New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem, ed. Davarian L. Baldwin and Minkah Makalani (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), pp. 335-60
Awards & Honors
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow (Jan.-June 2022)
2013 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award (Organization of American Historians) For best book on the civil rights struggle from the beginnings of the nation to the present
Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies
Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellowship, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University
Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowship, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and American Council of Learned Societies
Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and American Council of Learned Societies
2007 Louis Pelzer Memorial Award (Organization of American Historians) For best essay by a candidate for a graduate degree on any topic or period in United States history
African American History, 1865-Present
From Redlined to Subprime: Race and Real Estate in the US
All Politics Is Local
The Black Metropolis: African Americans and the City
Land and Power in America
US Urban History
The United States, 1945-Present
Internet and Popular Press Publications
“Beaches Belong to Everyone, Not the Privileged Few,” New Haven Register, Feb. 17, 2021, https://www.nhregister.com/opinion/article/Opinion-Beaches-belong-to-eve...
"Who Will Get to Swim This Summer?," New York Times, June 28, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/28/opinion/coronavirus-openings-summer-b...
“Cities Should End the Unjust Practice of Tax Sales,” City Lab, April 2, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-02/cities-should-end-the...
"Black People's Land Was Stolen," New York Times, June 22, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/20/opinion/sunday/reparations-hearing.html
“They Won’t Stop Until They Own It All,” PublicSeminar.org, Aug. 20, 2018, http://www.publicseminar.org/2018/08/they-wont-stop-until-they-own-it-all/
“Exclusive Beaches, Divided State,” Hartford Courant, July 1, 2018, https://www.courant.com/opinion/insight/hc-op-insight-kahrl-ct-divided-b...
“America’s Segregated Shores,” The Guardian, June 12, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/12/americas-segregated-shores...
“The North’s Jim Crow,” New York Times, May 28, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/27/opinion/jim-crow-north.html
"The Cost of Coastal Capitalism: How Greedy Developers Left Miami Ripe for Destruction," Washington Post, Sept. 12, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/09/12/the-co...
"Free the Beaches, Before It's Too Late," Washington Post, Aug. 3, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/08/03/free-t...
"Beaches Belong to the Public," New York Times, Dec. 5, 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/opinion/beaches-belong-to-the-public....