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Dr. Benjamin Houston

photo of Ben Houston

My scholarly interests are in 20th century US history, with my research and teaching particularly oriented towards the African American civil rights movement.

In 2012 I published The Nashville Way: Racial Etiquette and the Struggle for Social Justice in a Southern City, a community study of how race was lived in one city. Nashville was famous for being home to a cohort of civil rights leaders central to the broader black freedom struggle. My book examined the contours of this activism but also folded in analysis of the city's everyday race relations, plus broader considerations of public policy, to underscore how both law and custom conditioned race relations for whites and blacks. In this way I hoped to show what was unique about Nashville's segregation, as well as highlight themes more widely applicable across the South (and US more broadly).

Before moving to Newcastle, I directed an oral history project that documented African American life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our interviews explored how community life and civil rights activism were shaped by the broader political economy, particularly as the city underwent massive social and economic shifts due to the wider deindustrialisation of the era. I am currently working on a book that analyses these narratives, as well as a short teaching textbook on the 1960 sit-ins as a critical juncture in the civil rights movement. Future research interests include nonviolent direct action, the Congress of Racial Equality, and political activism in the so-called post-civil rights era, and interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the Movement.

Key Publications


To contact Dr. Houston about a possible Northern Bridge application, please email him at ben.houston@ncl.ac.uk.