Hinckley Institute

10.19.23 I, too, Sing America: Black Patriotism from Frederick Douglass to Whitney Houston

Thursday, October 19, 2023

12 - 1:30 PM

Hinckley Institute of Politics,
260 South Central Campus Drive,
Room 2018,
Salt Lake City, UT, 84112
United States


I, too, Sing America: Black Patriotism from Frederick Douglass to Whitney Houston

Forum offered online and in the Hinckley Institute caucus room - Room 2018, Gardner Commons.

What might Black performance tell us about the contemporary debates over the role of patriotism in democratic politics? Noting that discussions of Black patriotism have been conspicuously absent from this debate, this essay outlines a way in which Black thinkers, activists, and artists from Frederick Douglass to Whitney Houston — and beyond — have employed the language and symbols of patriotism to speak to, and to engender solidarity and a political consciousness among, their African American audiences. Drawing on James Scott’s concept of hidden transcripts and the literature on the trickster in Black culture, the paper identifies a way in which Black patriotism might serve as a form of political resistance — understood both as a ‘pushing onwards’ and a pushing back — that often escapes the White ear and eye. The aim here is not necessarily to refute the claims of those who would see patriotism as inherently anti-democratic so much as to recontextualize the debate by pointing to a hitherto largely undiscussed dimension of the patriotic in American life.


  • Simon Stow, College of William & Mary



Pizza will be distributed to attendees at the beginning of the event. Please plan to arrive at the venue promptly.


The Hinckley Institute neither supports nor opposes the views expressed in this forum.