Violence has been a regrettable but regular feature of U.S. politics, often sparked by struggles over racial equity. As Americans continue to reflect on the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, what lessons can history provide?

On February 1, 2021, the Virginia Tech Department of History hosted a webinar, “Race and Political Violence in the United States: Historical Perspectives,” to explore intersections of race and political violence at critical historical moments.

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The webinar featured four expert speakers reflecting on how Americans have conceptualized and employed violence in changing political contexts: Black abolitionists’ debates about the place of physical force in their movement; the political ramifications of slaveholder violence; public violence and the invention of the “vigilante”; and the racially charged conflicts that mark our own era of Black Lives Matter and resurgent white supremacy.

The speakers were:

The event was sponsored by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Virginia Tech Department of History.

Email Paul Quigley at with any questions.