C-SPAN records black history class at RIT

Richard Newman

The cable TV network C-SPAN visited RIT on Thursday to tape a history class for an upcoming program on African-American history.

The cable public-affairs channel recorded a class on American Slavery and Freedom taught by Richard Newman, professor of history. The visit is part of a new program called American History TV, which began this fall.

“The program features a different historian each week conducting a class on a topic within their specialty in American history,” explains C-SPAN producer Luke Nichter.

“C-SPAN is a great resource for people interested in politics, history and literature,” Newman says. “And they have been one of the few channels to offer insightful coverage of African-American history and culture. It will be great to have them visit Rochester and RIT, where so many important black leaders have worked and lived. I know my students are excited!”

As part of the program, Newman and his students discuss abolitionist essays authored by black writers during the American Revolutionary era. One document, a eulogy of George Washington authored by former slave and black church leader Richard Allen in 1799, challenged Americans to end slavery. According to Newman, Allen’s address marked the first time a black leader publicly wrote about a U.S. president.

The episode also features a lecture by Newman on “Black Founders,” African-American men and women who fought racial injustice in Thomas Jefferson’s time. Newman notes that people like Richard Allen influenced later civil rights leaders, including Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr.

For more information on American History TV and to see schedules of C-SPAN’s programming calendar, go to the C-SPAN website.


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