Sheldon Hackney Reflects on Vann Woodward and Civil Rights

Sheldon Hackney, the Boies Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, reflects on the C. Vann Woodward for the next weekly history seminar, a jointly sponsored program by the National History Center and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The seminar, entitled ” C. Vann Wordward and the Civil Rights Movement” takes place at the Wilson Center on Monday, May 10th.

C. Vann Woodward (1908–1999) was perhaps the most admired historian of the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. Soft spoken, well dressed, and genteel, Woodward was nonetheless always to be found at the center of political action pushing leftward. He was a civil rights pioneer and an early opponent of the war in Vietnam. Nevertheless, in the late Sixties and after, he had major confrontations with radical left historians. One wonders why and when Woodward became so liberal, and whether he drifted to the right in his later years.

Professor Hackney teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. He was Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1993–97. He has served as the President of Tulane University and the University of Pennsylvania, where he endured the Water Buffalo incident. His books include Populism to Progressivism in Alabama, which won the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association. When Hackney was working toward his PhD at Yale, his supervisor was Vann Woodward.

Please click here to watch a video presentation of the seminar.

This is part of the weekly history seminar that aims to facilitate the understanding of contemporary affairs in light of historical knowledge of all times and places, and from multiple perspectives. Click here to see a complete listing of the schedule of speakers and topics, as well as videos of the presentations.