Jessica Ann Levy is a historian of 20th century American business, politics, and racism in the U.S. and Africa. Her current book project, Black Power, Inc.: Corporate America, Race, and Empowerment Politics (under contract with University of Pennsylvania Press), examines the transnational rise of black empowerment, including private and government programs promoting black entrepreneurship, vocational training, and community development, in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa during the late twentieth-century. Levy is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including from the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, the Jefferson Scholars/Hagley Library, the German Historical Institute, as well as numerous library grants and fellowships. Her work has appeared in various academic and public venues, including Enterprise & Society, Journal of Urban History, and The Washington Post. In August 2019, Levy will return to Charlottesville to serve as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of History and the Corruption Lab on Ethics, Accountability, and the Rule of Law (part of the Democracy Initiative). Levy received her Ph.D. in History from Johns Hopkins University. She holds an M.A. from The University of Chicago and a B.A. from Emory University.
Black Power, Inc.: Global American Business and the Post-Apartheid City
“Black Power, Inc.” examines the transnational rise of black empowerment in the United States and southern Africa. Black empowerment, including private and government programs promoting job-training, community development, and black entrepreneurship, flourished as a popular response to post-war social unrest in cities from Philadelphia to Johannesburg. “Black Power, Inc.” analyzes the intellectual and financial investments corporate executives, government bureaucrats, and black entrepreneurs made in transforming black militants into “productive citizens.” By centering private capital alongside state violence, I explain Black Power’s demise in a way that reveals the seeds of political conservatism that blossomed within the global black freedom struggle.