Peter Blackmer

A photo of Peter Blackmer

Assistant Professor of Africology and African American Studies

Africology and African American Studies

614J Pray Harrold


[email protected]


  • Ph.D. in Afro American Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2018
  • M.A. in Afro American Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2014
  • M.S.Ed. in Secondary Education/Special Education, Wagner College, 2011
  • B.A. in History, Wagner College, 2010

Interests and Expertise

Peter Blackmer's research and teaching explore the ways in which Black-led grassroots organizing campaigns for self-determination in the 20th and 21st Century United States have shaped local and national politics through struggles for civil rights, human rights, and political power in American cities.

His current book project explores the local dynamics and national implications of Black Freedom Struggles in Harlem during the modern Civil Rights era. Through a street-level examination of Harlem's Black Radical Tradition and grassroots organizing campaigns around housing, education, employment, and policing, this book analyzes how Harlem residents challenged institutional racism and shaped national struggles for Black liberation in the urban north. By centering the voices of grassroots organizers and local people who envisioned and fought for a radically different world in the face of institutional racism and violent repression, the book offers a critical intervention in popular discourse around the urban rebellions of the 1960s and their legacies and recurrence today.

He is also the lead researcher for "The North: Civil Rights and Beyond in Urban America," a national digital humanities project on Black Freedom Struggles in the urban north, based in Newark, NJ. This work has produced public programming and exhibits, community classes, public school curricula, and educational websites on African American history in Newark and Detroit.

He was previously a Research Fellow with the Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL), an initiative of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School. At DEAL, he conducted community-driven research on current issues of institutional racism and ongoing grassroots struggles for human rights and self-determination in Detroit.

Publications and Presentations

Public Scholarship
  • "Policing Protest: The Dangers of Media Bias During Urban Uprisings," CounterPunch, Online (June 2020)
  • "Dual pandemics: police brutality and coronavirus racial disparities," Bridge Magazine, Online (June 2020)
  • "The Possibilities of Black Power History in Newark," Black Perspectives, Online (2019)
  • "Police Used the Myth of Black Snipers to Justify Brutality in the Long Hot Summer of 1967," Timeline, Online (2017)
  • "Why This Topic?': Inspiration and Growth Through Writing History," History@Work, National Council on Public History Blog (2015)
  • "The True Condition of Our Race': Centering Personal Narratives in Writing History," Past@Present, UMass Department of History Blog (2015)
  • "Ensuring Our Future: Postsecondary Success for Young Men of Color in Detroit," Executive Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, Washington, D.C. (Spring 2019)
Recent Presentations
  • "Newark's First Black Mayor: Legacies and Lessons After 50 Years." Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Montgomery, AL (September 2020)
  • "Black workers in the back street': Jesse Gray and Harlem's Black Radical Tradition." African American Intellectual History Society, Austin, TX (March 2020)
  • "Counter-Narratives and Community-Driven Research for Racial Equity in Detroit." Wayne State University Humanities Center Brown Bag Series, Detroit, MI (March 2020)
Public History
  • Producer, "Voices from the Grassroots Oral History Project," Detroit Equity Action Lab (2020)
  • Lead Researcher, "The North: Civil Rights and Beyond in Urban America,"
  • Curator, "From Rebellion to Empowerment: The 50th Anniversary of the Newark Medical School Fight," Exhibition at the Newark Public Library (2018)
  • Conference Coordinator, "From Rebellion to Empowerment: The 50th Anniversary of the Newark Medical School Fight," Ad Hoc Committee for Newark's History, Newark, NJ (2018)
  • Co-curator, "Voices from the Rebellion," Exhibition at the Newark Public Library (2017)

Grants, Honors and Awards

  • Research Fellowship, Detroit Equity Action Lab, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, Wayne State University Law School (2018-2020)
  • Postdoctoral Trainee Service Award, Wayne State University (2020)
  • National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grant, Center for Education and Juvenile Justice, Newark, NJ (2018)
  • Columbia University Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Summer Teachers and Scholars Institute (2016)