Media

The Washington Post: “Activists have always been frustrated at allies’ insistence on gradual change”

When Abraham Lincoln was elected, Lydia Maria Child had been fighting to end slavery for thirty years. Lincoln’s careful negotiations with Southern states, guaranteeing that slavery could continue if they stayed in the Union, enraged her. Activists’ job, she argued, was to hold politicians at the “point of a moral bayonet” to ensure that moral progress would not be bargained away.

The Washington Post: “Lessons from the history of the White female abolitionists for today” (with Linda Hirshman)

White abolitionists Lydia Maria Child and Maria Weston Chapman were allies in the fight against slavery but fell out with each other over tactics and philosophy. In the years following their split, they both retreated from the abolitionist movement, only reengaging as the slide into war accelerated. Black abolitionists such as Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Harriet Tubman, and Sarah Mapps Douglass fought on without the benefit of time away, illustrating a fundamental inequity in activist movements that continues today.

The American Scholar: “Freedom Tales”

Long before the contentious school board fights of today, Lydia Maria Child tried to help America’s children understand their country’s racial transgressions.

The Paris Review: “For Our Cause is Just

Abolitionist Lydia Maria Child despaired about her country’s moral progress when Andrew Jackson was elected president. Two decades later, she wrote to a nephew enlisted in the Civil War to assure him that the Union’s cause was just. Between those moments, she threw herself into the antislavery struggle in every way she knew how.

Boston Globe: “The North’s Racial Blindness”

On a day that white supremacists threatened to convene in Boston in 2017, I reflected on Lydia Maria Child’s condemnation of the Northern racism that made Southern slavery possible and on my own struggles as a white Northerner to come to terms with prejudice in my own backyard.

Interview about Lydia Maria Child with Christopher Lydon on WBUR’s “Open Source”

On Christopher Lydon’s program celebrating the 200th birthday of Henry David Thoreau, I talk about Lydia Maria Child’s connection to Thoreau’s generation of writers, including her more radical antislavery politics. We talk particularly about her spat with Governor Henry Wise of Virginia over John Brown’s raid, which went the nineteenth-century equivalent of viral. Here is a transcript of the interview.

Blog of the American Philosophical Association: “The Philosophical Activism of Lydia Maria Child” 

In the nineteenth century, women philosophers were rare, but women activists were not. Lydia Maria Child, I argue, was both. What kind of philosophizing did Child do to sustain a lifetime of radical antislavery activism?

Interview on Abolition’s history and future on Freedom and Captivity podcast

What can we learn from nineteenth-century antislavery abolitionists like Lydia Maria Child about abolitionist movements now?

Boston Globe: Review of Linda Hirshman’s The Color of Abolition

Lydia Maria Child and Maria Weston Chapman were the 19th-century version of frenemies: fierce allies in the crusade to end slavery but sometimes personally at odds. Their falling-out in the 1840s was heartbreaking. Here I review Linda Hirschman’s wonderful book that highlights Chapman’s long-neglected status in the abolitionist movement. A pdf of the review is here.

Interview with Michael Schur, creator of NBC’s “The Good Place,” and William Jackson Harper, who plays Chidi, at WBUR’s CitySpace.

An interview in which I thank Will Harper for portraying philosophers as so muscular, Michael Schur tells my students not to listen to me, and the three of us talk about how to be a good human, and not just on television.

Interview with Michael Schur about his book “How to Be Perfect,” at WBUR’s CitySpace.

An interview in which I interview Michael Schur about his book on moral philosophy, we consider historical instances of luck and privilege, and we do not talk about Tom Brady.

Global Justice, Local Focus (Faculty Panel, Colby College)

At an inauguration event for Colby’s president David Greene, I talk about what art can tell us about national collective responsibility, especially as regards Native Americans in Maine.

Philosophy and Art (Colby Museum of Art)

Here is a video of an art exhibit my students in “Philosophy and Art” put together in Colby’s Museum of Art in coordination with the Annual Humanities Theme “Censorship Uncovered.”

Philosophy 234: Philosophy and Art from Colby College Arts/Humanities on Vimeo.