Robert E. Weems Jr.

History commentator

Robert E. Weems, Jr. is the Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History at Wichita State University.

His research specialty is African American business and economic history.

Ways to Connect

Jamelle Bouie / Wikimedia Commons

Protests stemming from recent grand jury decisions related to Michael Brown and Eric Garner have featured the refrain “black lives do matter.”

Sadly, one of the unsavory aspects of American history is that there are innumerable documented instances of where it was apparent that black lives, indeed, did not matter.

League of Women Voters of California LWVC, Flickr Creative Commons

In two weeks, the nation will express its political will in the midterm elections of 2014. Unfortunately, this election cycle, similar to previous ones in American history, features discourse related to African American voter suppression.

Elvert Barnes (perspective) / Flickr / Creative Commons

One of the talking points associated with the recent racial disturbance in Ferguson, Mo. is the enhanced militarization of contemporary municipal police forces.

This process began in the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the widespread racial disturbances of that era. Moreover, as Michelle Alexander discusses in her book The New Jim Crow, this arms build-up accelerated in the 1970s, as local law enforcement agencies across the country began a so-called “War On Drugs,” waged primarily in black and brown neighborhoods.

gageskidmore / Flickr / Creative Commons

On July 30, the House of Representatives passed a resolution approving of Speaker John Boehner’s proposed lawsuit against President Barack Obama. This represented the first time in U.S. history that a chamber of Congress has endorsed a lawsuit against a president.

Historically, if Congress believed a sitting president engaged in unlawful behavior, it issued “articles of impeachment.” Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton have been the most recent targets of such punitive congressional action.

Mike Licht / Flickr / Creative Commons

As a fan of the National Basketball Association, and as someone who does research in African American history, the recent Donald Sterling debacle reminded me that former President Dwight D. Eisenhower was correct when he stated that laws and court decisions can’t necessarily change what’s in the hearts of individuals.

Lucas Hayas / Flickr / Creative Commons

Since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788, the federal government has been the center of power in this country. However, two recent developments suggest that this may be shifting.

Courtesy photo / Wichita State University

A historic and ongoing shortcoming of the U.S. economy is its underutilization of the entrepreneurial potential within nonwhite communities. For instance, because of this longstanding problem, in Kansas today, nonwhites make up 20 percent of the state’s population, yet only seven percent of Kansas’ businesses are minority-owned.

Wikimedia Commons

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This landmark legislation made it illegal to discriminate against someone based upon their race or place of birth.

Before 1964, the experiences of transplanted Africans in this country were dramatically influenced by slavery and Jim Crow racial segregation. During the past 50 years, many African Americans, under the protection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, have achieved a level of social and economic mobility that their ancestors could only have dreamt of.

Cocoabiscuit / Flickr / Creative Commons

As we prepare again to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the ironies of the holiday and King’s memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, is that King, himself, was far more modest in how he wished to be remembered.

laurieofindy / Flickr / Creative Commons

During the past few years, the holiday shopping season has undergone a dramatic transformation.

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