Leslie Alexander

Associate Professor, Department of African American and African Studies

Professor Alexander's first monograph, African or American?: Black Identity and Political Activism in New York City, 1784-1861, explores Black culture, identity, and political activism during the early national and antebellum eras. (In the spring of 2010, African or American was awarded the Cheikh Anta Diop award for Outstanding Scholarship in the field of Africana Studies by the National Council for Black Studies.) She is also the co-editor of "'We Shall Independent Be:' African American Place-Making and the Struggle to Claim Space in the United States" and the "Encyclopedia of African American History." Most recently, she published "The Black Republic: The Influence of the Haitian Revolution on Black Political Consciousness, 1817-1861," which appears in African Americans and the Haitian Revolution: Selected Essays and Historical Documents, (eds. Maurice Jackson and Jacqueline Bacon. Routledge, 2009.)

Over the past few years, Dr. Alexander has won several university awards, including the University Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, the University Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award, the College of Humanities Diversity Enhancement Award, and was selected as one of the “Seven Stars” in the College of Humanities. She currently serves on both the Council on Academic Affairs and the University Senate, as well as the African American Coalition Executive Committee and the Office of Minority Affairs Steering Committee.

A recipient of several prestigious fellowships, including the Ford Foundation Post Doctoral Fellowship and the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Dr. Alexander has most recently presented her research at the annual meetings of the Association of African American Life and History (ASALH), the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the African Heritage Studies Association. In 1999, she was elected to the Executive Board of the African Heritage Studies Association. She also currently serves on the Committee on Women Historians for the American Historical Association, and is on the Executive Board of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD).

Current Research

Dr. Alexander's current research project, tentatively titled "The Cradle of Hope: African American Internationalism in the Nineteenth Century,” seeks to understand how African Americans viewed political issues throughout the African Diaspora in the antebellum and early post-bellum eras. In particular, it explores how African American activists became involved in international movements for racial and social justice, and lobbied the U.S. government for changes in their foreign policy towards African and African Diasporic nations.  What Alexander calls “early African American internationalism” took was already expanding by the late 1820s and even after slavery in the United States was abolished, African American activists vigilantly fought slavery elsewhere in the world and agitated for full emancipation.

The project seeks to demonstrate that African Americans in the nineteenth century were actively engaged in foreign policy and international affairs and will shed light on an issue that has not yet received much historiographic attention but has the potential to transform our understanding of Black activism in the nineteenth century.

Areas of Expertise
  • African American and African Diaspora History
  • Black Nationalism
  • Culture and Resistance
  • Political Activism and Identity
  • Early African American History
  • 19th Century Black Political Thought
  • Black History Through Contemporary Film
  • Black Protest Thought
  • Ph.D. Cornell University
  • M.A. Cornell University
  • B.A. Stanford University

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