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Dr. Karlos K. Hill

Dr. Karlos K. Hill

Associate Professor of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma and Expert on Racism & Race Relations


Dr. Karlos K. Hill is an expert on racism and race relations. Dr. Hill is an Associate Professor of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He is also the founding director of the African and African American Studies Distinguished Lecture Series at the university. Read More >

Dr. Hill is a frequent commentator on issues of race, equity, and social justice. He has been quoted in Newswise, the Dallas Morning News, Texas Public Radio, and numerous times in local and regional news outlets. His weekly podcast Tapestry: A Conversation About Race and Culture has a global following.

Dr. Hill specializes in the history of lynching and the antilynching movement in America. His core research aim is to uncover the various ways in which racial violence has been central to the black experience in America. Additionally, Dr. Hill’s research explores how black Americans have resisted racial violence and how black resistance has changed over time.

His forthcoming book entitled Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory will be published by Cambridge University Press in May 2016. Beyond the Rope is an interdisciplinary study that draws on narrative theory and cultural studies methodologies to trace African Americans’ changing attitudes and relationships to lynching over the twentieth century. Whereas African Americans are typically framed as victims of white lynch mob violence in both scholarly and public discourses, Dr. Hill reveals that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, African Americans lynched other African Americans in response to alleged criminality, and twentieth-century black writers envisaged African American lynch victims as exemplars of heroic manhood. Beyond the Rope illuminates the submerged histories of black vigilantism and black-authored narratives of the lynched black body in order to demonstrate that rather than being static and one-dimensional, African American attitudes toward lynching and the lynched black evolved in response to changing social and political contexts.

He is also completing a second book entitled The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History to be published by Oxford University Press in 2017. Emmett Till is the most remembered lynch victim in American history. Till’s murder is often cited for sparking the Civil Rights Movement. The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History’s primary aim is to commemorate the 60th anniversary [August 28, 2015] of the 1955 Emmett Till murder by providing an up-to-date and concise narrative of the murder that is reflective of the latest scholarship and recent developments in the case such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) reopening of the Emmett Till murder case in 2004, the US Senate’s formal apology for lynching in 2005, the FBI’s 2006 Emmett Till murder investigative report, and the passage of the 2008 Emmett Till Unsolved Crimes Act.

Dr. Hill has been awarded several prestigious fellowships and grants. Most notably, Dr. Hill was twice awarded the Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellowship (Luther College, 2008-2009 and St. Olaf College, 2007-2008) and the prestigious Coca Cola Museum Fellowship in 2001.

Besides teaching and research, Dr. Hill is heavily involved in community outreach and engagement. Since 2013, Dr. Hill has served on Texas Tech University’s President’s Gender Equity Council as Chair of Engagement. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Beyond the Rope

Speech Topics

The Importance of Black History Month

Historically, mainstream American history excluded black Americans’ contributions to U.S. society and typically demeaned black Americans as racial inferior. Only since the civil rights movement have African Americans and other racial minorities gained much deserved recognition. Black History Month remains an important American institution (regardless of the criticisms that have been launched against it) because it attempts to repair the accumulated damage that racism and historical amnesia have wreaked on American culture and society. In this presentation, Dr. Hill argues that Black History Month has become a comforting ritual for congratulating ourselves on how far we as a nation have come rather than critical assessing the work that remains to be done.

Police Shootings of Unarmed Blacks as Modern Day Lynchings

Since the police killing of unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown and especially after the police killing of 12 year old Tamir Rice, black Americans have increasingly labeled police killings as modern day lynching. In a provocative lecture, Dr. Hill explores what are the implications of embracing or rejecting police killings of unarmed blacks as lynchings and why this discussion matters.

Combating Police Brutality: Lessons from the 21st Century

Black Lives Matter activists contend that better officer training is not enough to solve the problem of police brutality. Rather true change, won’t arrive until police officers officers who clearly violate established protocols are held accountable for using deadly force against non-threatening and unarmed blacks. Dr. Hill explains what has happened and what needs to happen to transform policing in America.

The Epidemic of Black on Black Homicides & What We Can Do About It

Today and in recent years, black-on-black homicides are the leading cause of death among black males between the ages 15 and 34. The vast majority of these deaths involve a hand gun. Dr. Hill explains why black America is experiencing unprecedented rates of handgun violence and steps black communities afflicted with the epidemic are taking to make their communities safer.

Domestic Terrorism: Myths & Realities

Despite the fact that is more likely that a domestic terrorist is a young white male and that white Americans have a more extensive history of terrorism against minority population in the U.S., Arab Americans are routinely portrayed as terrorists. In a wide-ranging discussion of topics such as the history Ku Klux Klan to contemporary white prison gangs, Dr. Hill debunks the pervasive myth of the Arab terrorist.

The Gun Debate in America: A Black Historical Perspective

From antilynching activist Ida B. Wells to the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, African Americans have been some of the most ardent supporters of the second amendment. Black support for gun rights belies that fact that they have been disproportionately victims of gun-related fatalities. In a thought provoking lecture, Dr. Hill explains how Americans can gain greater clarity on the gun debate by understanding the black historical experience.