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Peter Blackmer

Headshot of Peter BlackmerPh.D. Candidate, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY, and received my B.A. in History and M.S. Ed. from Wagner College before entering the Ph.D. program in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass, where I am in my third year in the History and Politics track and second year in the Public History graduate certificate program. My primary research interests focus on northern struggles for Black liberation with emphasis on community organizing and political activism in Harlem preceding the rebellions in 1964. In addition, I also research 19th Century African American history and politics with particular emphasis on Reconstruction, institutionalized political violence, and African American community responses.

My interest in Public History is essentially two-pronged. For my undergraduate thesis, I sought to gather oral histories of Harlem residents to produce a community-centered history of social movements in the early 1960s. I plan to hone my skills in oral and community histories through the Public History program to produce a more refined history of political activism in Harlem, centering the experiences of local people. In addition, I am currently developing an educational website to present my research findings regarding the evolution of political violence and the overthrow of Reconstruction. I plan to utilize my training in public history to effectively present this information in ways that are accessible to popular audiences and useful to students and teachers.