Publication Date

January 26, 2024

Perspectives Section

Member Spotlight, Perspectives Daily


  • United States


African American, Political

Robert Greene II is an assistant professor of history at Claflin University. He lives in Cayce, South Carolina, and has been a member since 2022.

Robert Greene II

Robert Greene II

Twitter: @robgreeneII

Instagram: robgreene86

Alma maters: BA (creative writing), Georgia Southern University, 2008; MA (history), Georgia Southern University, 2012; PhD, University of South Carolina, 2019

Fields of interest: American intellectual since 1945, US South, African American, sport

Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?

Since I was a young boy, I was deeply interested in learning history. When my father sat me down at age five to watch the film Glory, about the famed 54th Massachusetts Regiment, he did so because he knew how much I loved learning about history. Since then, I have been deeply committed to learning, and teaching, history. Working at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina—the oldest HBCU in the state—has given me the opportunity to not only teach the important history of the South but to do so in an environment deeply touched by history.

What do you like the most about where you live and work?

The Midlands of South Carolina—which includes Columbia and Cayce—is filled with a rich history. Working with other historians in the area has allowed me the opportunity to research more of the valuable history of Black life in South Carolina. Working here has also given me the chance to get involved in local attempts to promote this history, through the Modjeska Simkins School of Human Rights for the South Carolina Progressive Network. This 16-week class teaches concerned citizens and activists the grassroots history of the Palmetto State, which has had a tremendous impact on the United States and the world.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am writing my book, The Newest South: African Americans and the Democratic Party, 1964 to 2000, currently under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press. The book delves into the relationship between the party leadership and its most stalwart part of the party base, African Americans. I am also working on article projects surrounding the use of memory by leaders of the Civil Rights Movement—most notably Martin Luther King Jr.—and beginning work on my next book project, looking at the relationship between Black Americans and baseball since Jackie Robinson’s desegregation of Major League Baseball in 1947.

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?

They have! Indeed, while I continue to focus on intellectual and political history, I have also begun to fold sport history into both of those interests. It is increasingly clear to me that the nation’s intellectual history must include a full accounting of how sport fits into that.

What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever found at the archives or while doing research?

Using the online archives of Ebony magazine has revealed just how diverse intellectual and cultural life was among Black Americans in the 20th century. For example, in letters to the editor, you see debates about who counts as Black—most vividly in conversations about Black baseball players in the 1990s!

Is there an article, book, movie, blog, etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?

I would certainly recommend two blogs that I have been involved with for years: Black Perspectives for the African American Intellectual History Society, and the blog for the Society of US Intellectual Historians. As for books, W.E.B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction in America is a necessary read for every historian of the American experience. Du Bois’s use of methodology, context, and nuance, still has much to say to us nearly 90 years later.

What do you value most about the history discipline?

The camaraderie among historians is a reminder of how we are all dedicated to rigorous research into the past. It is always important to remember that we are not alone—and that our work matters, both inside and outside the world of academia.

Why is membership in the AHA important to you?

The AHA is an excellent place where historians can come together and learn from one another. Such groups are critical to the continued survival of our profession.

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

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