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Fredrickson, George M. 1934-2008 (George Marsh Fredrickson)

Fredrickson, George M. 1934-2008 (George Marsh Fredrickson)


See index for CA sketch: Born July 16, 1934, in Bristol, CT; died of heart failure, February 25, 2008, in Stanford, CA. Historian, educator, and author. Fredrickson was an expert on the history of racism, specifically American race relations compared to practices elsewhere in the world. He believed that the development of racism in the United States could be understood best by exploring the factors that contributed to it and comparing them to events and contributing factors as they occurred in other countries like South Africa. He was awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Award in Race Relations from the Cleveland Foundation for his book The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-AmericanCharacter and Destiny, 1817-1914 (1971). Fredrickson was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in history ten years later, after he published his groundbreaking study White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History (1981). One of his findings was that, in the beginning at least, South Africans were noticeably more tolerant of racial differences and status than Americans. In the United States notions of white superiority were crucial justifications for the treatment of people of color, whose land they coveted (American Indians) and whose labor they needed (slaves of African and Caribbean origin). Fredrickson wrote his book during the nearly twenty years that he taught at Northwestern University. He moved to Stanford University in 1984, where he was the Edgar E. Robinson Professor of U.S. History until 2002 and a cofounder of the Research Institute of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. He was the W.E.B. Du Bois Lecturer at Harvard University as recently as 2006. Outside the classroom Fredrickson was a civil rights activist, marching on Washington, DC, in 1963 with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, and participating in antiapartheid protests at Stanford in 1985 and 1986. Fredrickson received several awards for his research on race relations and published nearly twenty books on related topics. These include The Arrogance of Race: Historical Perspectives on Slavery, Racism, and Societal Inequality (1988), The Comparative Imagination: On the History of Racism, Nationalism, and Social Movements (1997), and Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race (2008).



Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2008, p. B6.

New York Times, March 7, 2008, p. C11.

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