Kidada Elease Williams (bb2756)

University information

Title: Professor
Unit: History
Department: College of Liberal Arts & Science

Contact information

3094 FAB
Liberal Arts & Sciences
Detroit, 48202

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences



Title: Professor
Phone: 313-577-2525

3069 Faculty/Administration Building (FAB)


Kidada E. Williams (here's a bio for introductions) is an award-winning historian and professor who researches African Americans' experiences of racist violence. Here at Wayne State, she teaches African American history, U.S. history and historical research methods.

The earliest proponents of what we call African American history intended for their research to reach the broadest possible audience. Williams frequently engages with the public through lectures, media appearances, and contributions to platforms like podcasts and documentary films, aiming to educate a broader audience about the historical and ongoing impacts of racial violence.

Williams began this work as a graduate student researching the Underground Railroad in Washtenaw County, Michigan and co-creating a bus tour. She has given talks at a variety of public institutions. She has contributed to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and was on the Zinn Project's roster of People's Historians, both of which helped K-12 teachers broaden their understandings of U.S. history and develop new strategies for teaching challenging subject matter. She appeared on Skip Gates's PBS award-winning series, Reconstruction: America after the Civil War, Nikole Hannah-Jones's "The 1619 Project" series on Hulu and rebroadcast on ABC, NPR's "Morning Edition" and "On Point," WDET's "Detroit Today," and "BackStory with the American History Guys." Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, DAME, Slate, and Bridge Magazine.

Williams is also one of the co-developers of #CharlestonSyllabus, a crowd-sourced project that helped people understand the historical context surrounding the 2015 racial massacre at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church.

Lately, she has been extending her commitment to African American history by sharing her expertise on survivors of anti-black violence on podcasts, like Scene on Radio's The Land That Has Never Been YetWhy Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes, MSNBC's Into America with Trymaine Lee, and the Slate Academy history series on Reconstruction. She was the host and co-producer of Seizing Freedom, a podcast docudrama created by Kelly Hardcastle Jones, that covered the epic story of African Americans' fight for freedom during the Civil War and beyond.


Email is the best way to reach her: (if you need to arrange book signings, please contact Bloomsbury or email me for direct contact). Williams' existing and emerging commitments and her insistence on being well rested don't always enable her to fulfill last minute requests or work on demand so please try to plan ahead, include all relevant details, and remember that Black History Month and Juneteenth are the same time every year. 😉 

Need a concise bio to introduce her?

There's no need to struggle about what to say when there's a press kit.

Want the expertise of other historians?

The historical profession, has plenty of experts, including ones on African American history or U.S. history, who can meet your needs. Check out:

History resources for K-12 teachers, parents and general folks

Williams often gets asked by K-12 teachers and parents for resources on the history she teaches. Here is a page with a not exhaustive list of links for teaching and learning African American and U.S. history. The page includes links to lessons plans, primary sources, shows, classes and workshops.

Research interest(s)/area of expertise:

African American history

U.S. history

Survivors of violence


Williams investigates African Americans tesimonies' about their traumatic injuries from racist violence after slavery. She is the author of I Saw Death Coming (longlisted for the 2023 National Book Award in Nonfiction and 2024 winner of the Organization of American Historians' Civil War and Reconstruction Book Prize) and They Left Great Marks on Me. She has published "Legacies of Violence" (in the National Museum of African American History and Culture's Make Good the Promises), "Writing Victims' Personhoods and People into the History of Lynching," "Never Get Over It,"  "Maintaining a Radical Vision of African Americans in the Age of Freedom," "The Wounds that Cried Out," and "Regarding the Aftermaths of Lynching." Her research has been supported twice by fellowships from the Ford Foundation.

Graduate research supervision

Williams would be interested in supervising graduate students who wish to work on any topic relating to her research interests and whose theoretical orientations align with hers regarding Black Studies approaches to Black History and U.S. History and Critical Trauma Studies approaches to histories of violence. She also welcomes proposals regarding any aspect of African Americans' life, history, and culture.

Williams is best suited to supervise students who already have the makings of a historical research agenda--including a likely research question, an archive identified, and some knowledge of the historiography for the specific subject. Students wishing to learn more about how to craft a research agenda would do well to read and model the best research practices spelled out in Jules Benjamin's A Student's Guide to History and Wayne C. Booth et al, eds., The Craft of Research.

Education – Degrees, Licenses, Certifications: Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2005 M.A., Central Michigan University, 1998 B.S., Central Michigan University, 1996
Awards and grants:

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

 Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award, Wayne State University, 2024

 Organization of American Historians' Civil War and Reconstruction Book Prize, 2024

Selected publications:


Edited books

  • With Chad Williams and Keisha N. Blain, Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence. University of Georgia Press, 2016
  • A portion of the royalties will go to the Lowcountry Ministries Fund to address issues of social justice and economic empowerment in underserved communities in the South Carolina Lowcountry

Articles and chapters

Select public scholarship and appearances

Citation index:

Google Scholar

Kidada Elease Williams

Courses taught by Kidada Elease Williams

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Winter Term 2024

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Winter Term 2023

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Winter Term 2022

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