UCLA » College » Social Sciences » History

Brenda Stevenson

Professor and Nickoll Family Endowed Chair in History

Contact Information

Office  6274 Bunche Hall
Phone  310-825-9420

Brenda's academic website can be found here.

Brenda E. Stevenson is an internationally recognized scholar of race, slavery, gender, family and racial conflict.  Her specific intellectual interests center on the comparative, historical experiences of women, family, and community across racial and ethnic lines. Race and gender—the ways in which these two variables interact, intersect, collide with, emphasize, run parallel to and sometimes isolate one another—are at the center of her work. Her book length publications include:  The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimke (Oxford 1988); Life in Black and White:  Family and Community in the Slave South (Oxford 1996); The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins:  Justice, Gender and the Origins of the L.A. Riots (Oxford 2013); and, What is Slavery? (Polity 2015).


Professor Stevenson’s research has garnered numerous prizes including the James A. Rawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians for the best book in race relations (U.S.) for The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins, the Ida B. Wells Barnett Award for Bravery in Journalism, and the Gustavus Meyer Outstanding Book Prize for Life in Black and White.  Her research has been supported by, among others, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the Center for Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center and the American Academy in Berlin. She also is the recipient of the 2014 UCLA Gold Shield Award for outstanding scholarship, teaching and service and the John Blassingame Award for Mentorship and Scholarship from the Southern Historical Society. Professor Stevenson is the past Chair of the Departments of History and the Interdepartmental Program in African American Studies at UCLA.  She is a Distinguished Lecturer for both the Organization of American Historians and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Her interviews and commentaries can often be heard on NPR affiliates and other media outlets.  


Ph.D. 1990, Yale University


John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, 2015-2016
American Academy in Berlin Fellowship, Spring 2016
National Humanities Center John Hope Franklin Fellowship, 2015
Center for Advanced Studies and Behavioral Sciences, 2016-2017
21 Leaders for the 21st Century Award, Women's eNews
Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism, 2014
Honored at BWHxG: Cross-Generational Dialogues in Black Women’s History Conference (Graduate Mentor)
UCLA Gold Shield Faculty Award, 2014
James A. Rawley Prize, 2014,from Organization of American Historians; Best Book in History of Race Relations in U.S. for Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins
Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities
UCLA Academic Advancement Program 40th Anniversary Faculty Recognition Award, 2012
Carter G. Woodson Fellowship
Smithsonian Fellowship in American History
President's Postdoctoral Fellowship
Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship
American Association of University Women Fellowship
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy Fellowship
Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Prize, Life in Black and White: Family and Community in the Slave South, 1997
Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American History
Distinguished Lecturer, Association for the Study of African American Life and History

Selected Publications

Editor and Annotator, The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimke, Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers Series, Henry Louis Gates, General Editor (N.Y., Oxford U.P. 1988).
"Distress and Discord in Virginia Slave Families, 1830-1860," in Carol Bleser, ed., In Joy and In Sorrow: Women, Family and Marriage in the Victorian South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).
"Charlotte Forten (1873-1914)" in G.J. Barker-Benfield and Catherine Clinton, eds. Portraits of American Women from Settlement to the Civil War (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991).
"Slavery" in Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (New York: Carlson Publishing, Inc., 1993, Expanded and revised,2005.
"Abolition" in Darlene Clark Hine, ed. Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (New York: Calrson Publishing, Inc., 1993), Expanded and revised, 2005.
"Slave Family and Housing: in Ted Ownby, ed. Black and White: Cultural Interaction in the Antebellum South (Oxford: University of Mississippi Press, 1993).
"Black Family Structure in Colonial and Antebellum Virginia: Amending the Revisionists", in Belinda Tucker and Claudia Mitchell-Kernan, eds., The Decline in Marriage Among African-Americans: Causes, Consequences, and Policy Implications (New York: Russell Sage, 1995).
"Gender Convention, Ideals and Identity Among Antebellum Virginia Slave Women," in Dalrene Clark Hine and David Barry Gaspar, eds., More than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996).
Life in Black and White: Family and Community in the Slave South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996)Winner, 1997 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Prize.
"From Bondage to Freedom: Slavery in America" in Lara Gara, Brenda Stevenson and C. Peter Ripley, Underground Railroad: An Epic in United States History (Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, 1998).
Female Violence and Justice on the Urban Frontier,” The Journal of African American History (Spring 2004): 152-176.
Co-editor and contributor with Darlene Clark Hine, et. al., Black Women in America3 vol. set. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
“’Marsa Never Sot Aunt Rebecca Down’”: Enslaved Women, Religion, and Social Power in the Antebellum South,” The Journal of African American History, 90 #4(Fall 2005): 345-367.
Introduction as Guest Editor, The Journal of African American History, 92#1(Winter 2007).
“The Question of the Female Slave Community and Culture in the American South: Methodological and Ideological Approaches,” The Journal of African American History, 92 #1(Winter 2007): 74-95.
“History Lessons,” Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower ed. Deborah Gray White (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2008): 158-171.
“Review Essay of Annette Gordon Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family," The Journal of African American History,96 #3 (Summer 2011): 1-15.
“Contextualizing the Runaway Experience: A Brief History of Slavery,” in Wiese and Carbado, eds., The Long Walk to Freedom (Boston: Beacon Press, 2012).
"What's Love Got to Do With It? Concubinage and Enslaved Black Women and Girls in the Antebellum South," Journal of African American History, vol. 98 #1 (Winter 2013): 99-125.
The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins: Justice, Gender and the Origins of the LA Riots (Oxford University Press, 2013), James Rawely Prize Winner, 2014. “Families, Slavery and Flight,” William Still Digital History Project, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, http://hsp.org/history-online/digital-history-projects/william-still-dig....
“Family and Community in Slave Narratives,” in John Ernest, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the African American Slave Narrative, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 277-297.
“12 Years a Slave: Narrative, History and Film,” The Journal of African American History vol. 99, #1-2 (Winter-Spring 2014): 106-118.
“The Price of Slavery: Family, Community and Loss in Antebellum Texas,” Empire and Liberty: Civil War in the American West, Virginia Scharff, ed., (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.
What is Slavery? (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, May 2015 ).

Graduate Students

Graduate students who have completed the Ph.D. under my direction include: Joan Johnson (Northeastern Illinois University); Daina Ramey Berry (University of Texas, Austin); Jessica Millward (UC Irvine); Marne Campbell (LMU); Jakobi Williams (University of Indiana, Bloomington); Deirdre Cooper Owens (University of Mississippi); Jacob Dorman (University of Kansas); Jane Dabel (Cal State, Long Beach); Tsekani Browne (Bowie State University), Eric Johnson, Aaron Silverman (College of the Canyons) and Mark Okuhata