Douglas Flowe, assistant professor of history, has won the 2021 Littleton-Griswold Prize for his book Uncontrollable Blackness: African American Men and Criminality in Jim Crow New York (University of North Carolina Press). The Littleton-Griswold Prize is awarded annually to recognize the best book on the history of American law and society. A joint committee with members from both the American Historical Association and the American Society for Legal History selects the prize each year.
In Uncontrollable Blackness, Flowe investigates the meanings of crime, violence, and masculinity in the lives of those facing economic isolation, segregation, and overt racial attack — as well as how a biased justice system surveilled and criminalized even their lawful actions.
“The book explores poor African Americans' quest for freedom and dignity by using sources that previous scholars had mostly ignored,” said Corinna Treitel, professor of history and department chair. “‘Black criminality’ is a difficult topic to discuss, yet Flowe manages to do so with great rigor as well as great empathy. It is great to see a colleague as talented as Flowe recognized by this major award.”