Kidada Williams

Associate Professor History
Phone: 313-577-2525


Kidada E. Williams researches African American history after slavery with a focus on issues of racial violence and social trauma. Her first book, They Left Great Marks on Me, explores the vernacular history of Black southerners’ experiences of racial violence from emancipation to World War I and its link to the origins of the Civil Rights Movement. For her next project, she is investigating the ways experiencing violence after the Civil War destabilized families transitioning from slavery to freedom.


Williams is an engaged academic. She has given lectures and talks at public institutions including the Wright Museum, Detroit Historical Museum, and the Henry Ford. She has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition and WDET's Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson. She is also one of the three co-developers of the #CharlestonSyllabus. 



Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2005

M.A., Central Michigan University, 1998

B.S., Central Michigan University, 1996


Select Publications



They Left Great Marks on Me: African American Testimonies of Racial Violence from Emancipation to World War I. New York University Press, 2012.


Edited Books

Co-edited with Chad Williams and Keisha N. Blain, Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence. University of Georgia Press, 2016.


Articles and Chapters

"The Wounds that Cried Out: Reckoning with African Americans' Testimonies of Trauma and Suffering from Nightriding" in Gregory Downs and Kate Masur, eds. The World the Civil War Made. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.


"The Aftermaths of Lynching," Journal of American History 101:4 (2014).


Select Public Scholarship

Centuries of Violence (on the massacre at Charleston's AME Church)

Account for the Pillaging of African-American Freedom 

Trayvon Martin killing: The legacy of extralegal racial violence continues on


Select Awards

Career Development Chair, Wayne State University, 2014

Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award, Wayne State University, 2013

President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Wayne State University, 2011

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Award for Teaching, Wayne State University, 2011

Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship Competition, Wayne State University, 2011

Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2008

Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, “Topographies of Violence” Residency Research Grant, The University of Michigan, Fall 2008

Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for Minorities, 2002  


Courses Regularly Taught

African American History I (AFS/HIS 3140)


African American History II (AFS/HIS 3150)


American Slavery (AFS/HIS 5241/7241)


African American History & Memory (AFS/HIS 5261/7261)


The Civil War and Reconstruction (HIS 5040/7040)




Black Detroit in History and Memory (Fall 2015)