William D. Green's 'Degrees of Freedom' wins the third Hognander Minnesota History Award

William D. Green is winner of the 2016 Hognander Minnesota History Award for his book 'Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865–1912.'


Award will be presented April 16, 2016, at the Minnesota Book Awards ceremony

Press Release Date: 2016-03-04T05:51:00+00:00

Author William D. Green, professor of history at Augsburg College, has won the third Hognander Minnesota History Award for his book Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865–1912

Spanning the half-century after the Civil War, Degrees of Freedom draws a rare picture of black experience in a northern state and of the nature of black discontent and action within a predominantly white, ostensibly progressive society. Green reveals little-known historical characters among the black men and women who moved to Minnesota following the Fifteenth Amendment; worked as farmhands and laborers; built communities (such as Pig’s Eye Landing, later renamed St. Paul), businesses, and a newspaper (the Western Appeal); and embodied the slow but inexorable advancement of race relations in the state over time. Within this absorbing, often surprising, narrative we meet “ordinary” citizens, like former slave and early settler Jim Thompson and black barbers catering to a white clientele, but also personages of national stature, such as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and W. E. B. Du Bois, all of whom championed civil rights in Minnesota. And we see how, in a state where racial prejudice and oppression wore a liberal mask, black settlers and entrepreneurs, politicians, and activists maneuvered within a restricted political arena to bring about real and lasting change. 

Green is a former superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools. He is also author of A Peculiar Imbalance: The Fall and Rise of Racial Equality in Minnesota, 1837–1869. He will receive the award on April 16, 2016, at the 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards ceremony at St. Paul's Union Depot.

The Hognander Minnesota History Award, funded by the Hognander Family Foundation, is presented every two years. It recognizes the author of the most outstanding scholarly work related to Minnesota history published during the preceding two years. In 2012, Mary Lethert Wingerd won the first Hognander Award for North Country: The Making of Minnesota.



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