Glenn M. McNair joined the Department of History in the fall of 2001, completing a transition from law-enforcement officer to academic. Prior to entering graduate school he had been employed as a police officer and special agent with the U.S. Treasury Department. These experiences in law enforcement have inspired and informed his research agenda, which focuses on relations between African Americans and the criminal justice system. His current research also explores changes in black political culture and empowerment strategies since the Civil Rights Era. His comprehensive study of the criminal justice system of a slave state, "Criminal Injustice: Slaves and Free Blacks in Georgia’s Criminal Justice System," was published in 2009.
McNair is a winner of Kenyon's Trustee Teaching Excellence Award.
Areas of Expertise
Race and criminal Justice, slavery and southern history, and dynamics of African-American identity formation
2001 — Doctor of Philosophy from Emory University
1996 — Master of Arts from Georgia College
1988 — Bachelor of Science from Savannah State University
Courses Recently Taught
In August 1619, "twenty and odd negars" were traded for food by the crew of a Dutch sailing vessel. That commercial transaction represented the first recorded incident of a permanent African presence in America. Over the next 146 years, this population of Africans would grow to create an African American population of over four million. The overwhelming majority of this population was enslaved. This course will be an examination of those enslaved millions and their free black fellows -- who they were, how they lived, and how the nation was transformed by their presence and experience. Particular attention will be paid to the varieties of African-American experience and how slavery and the presence of peoples of African descent shaped American social, political, intellectual and economic systems. Students will be presented with a variety of primary and secondary source materials; timely and careful reading of these sources will prepare students for class discussions. Students will be confronted with conflicting bodies of evidence and challenged to analyze these issues and arrive at conclusions for themselves. This counts toward the premodern and America/Europe requirement for the major and minor. Generally offered every year.
This is an introductory lecture and discussion course in the history of African Americans in the United States. Beginning with Emancipation, the course traces the evolution of black culture and identity and the continuing struggle for freedom and equality. Topics will include the tragedies and triumphs of Reconstruction, interracial violence, the Harlem Renaissance, Jazz, Blues and the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Students will be presented with a variety of primary and secondary sources materials; timely and careful reading of these sources will prepare students for class discussions. Students will be confronted with conflicting bodies of evidence and challenged to analyze these issues and arrive at conclusions for themselves. Music and film will supplement classroom lectures and discussions. This counts toward the modern and Americas/Europe requirement for the major and minor. Generally offered every year.
The Civil War is perhaps the defining moment in the history of the United States. When the war ended, slavery had been abolished, 4 million African Americans had been freed, the South had been laid waste and the power of the federal government had been significantly expanded. The war set in motion forces that would change the nature of citizenship and alter the nature of American society, politics and culture forever. This course will focus on the causes of the war, its military campaigns, and its social, political and cultural consequences for black and white northerners and southerners. The course concludes with an examination of the war's continuing hold on the national imagination. This counts toward the modern and Americas/Europe requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite. Offered every three years.
Novels and movies have had a powerful effect on history, both as media for the transmission of historical information to modern audiences and as reflections of the values and concerns of their creators and audiences over time. This seminar will examine a variety of 20th century films and novels to understand African-American history from the antebellum period to the present. The goal of this examination will be to discern how writers and filmmakers have understood and presented the history and images of African Americans to contemporary audiences, and how these representations have reflected and changed understandings of African-American history and notions of race. This counts toward the modern and Americas/Europe requirement for the major and minor. Prerequisite: junior standing. Offered every three or four years.
The years between 1954 and 1975 have been variously described by historians as a Second Reconstruction and the "fulfillment of the promise of the American Revolution." These years, which constitute the civil rights era, witnessed African Americans and their allies transforming the nation by overturning Jim Crow segregation, challenging racism, and expanding the idea and reality of freedom in America. While this period was one in which most African Americans fought for greater inclusion in American society, it also was one which saw the rise of militant nationalist organizations like the Nation of Islam and the Black Panther Party that sought to separate themselves from an America they saw as hopelessly depraved and racist. This seminar will be an intense exploration of this revolutionary period and its personalities through close examination of a variety of primary and secondary sources, documentaries and motion pictures. This counts towards the modern and Americas/Europe requirements for the major and minor. Offered every two or three years.
This course will examine the impact of race on politics, political parties and public policy in the United States from the 1930s to the present. Race has been a defining feature of American political culture from the country's founding and has had a profound impact on society and culture over the past seven decades. Government action has contributed significantly to the development of the post-World War II middle class, the rise of the suburbs and American economic prosperity, but it also has created the modern ghetto, maintained and increased segregation, hindered black wealth creation and led to the ascendancy of political conservatism, all while putatively pursuing an agenda of racial and social justice. This course will explore the evolution of these social, political and economic developments. Topics will include federal housing policy, urban renewal, the construction of the highway system, the civil rights and Black Power movements, the rise of the Republican Party, busing, affirmative action, congressional redistricting and the war on drugs. This counts toward the modern and Americas/Europe requirement for the major and minor. Offered every two or three years.
This course will examine the history of Blacks in America's criminal justice system from the colonial period to the present. It will begin with the creation of separate criminal laws and punishments for Blacks during the colonial and antebellum periods, with particular emphasis on how slavery shaped the system. Students will explore how the criminal justice system changed after the end of slavery, during the Reconstruction era; topics will include convict leasing and lynching. We will discuss criminal justice issues through the mid 20th century with a special focus on disparities in America's implementation of the death penalty. The final section of the course will be devoted to the war on drugs, the homicide epidemic among Blacks, urban policing strategies and police shootings of unarmed black victims. The subject matter of the course will be covered through historical monographs and articles, documentaries and memoirs. Prerequisite: junior standing.
The goal of this course is to give each history major the experience of a sustained, independent research project, including formulating a historical question, considering methods, devising a research strategy, locating and critically evaluating primary and secondary sources, placing evidence in context, shaping an interpretation and presenting documented results. Research topics will be selected by students in consultation with the instructor. Classes will involve student presentations on various stages of their work and mutual critiques, as well as discussions of issues of common interest, such as methods and bibliography. Open only to senior history majors. This counts toward the senior research seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: HIST 387. Offered every fall.
This is an introductory lecture and discussion course in the history of African Americans in the United States. Beginning with Emancipation, the course traces the evolution of black culture and identity and the continuing struggle for freedom and equality. Topics will include the tragedies and triumphs of Reconstruction, interracial violence, black political and institutional responses to racism and violence, the Harlem Renaissance, jazz, blues, and the civil rights and black power movements.