Gino Nuzzolillo is a junior at Duke University from Omaha, Nebraska studying History and Human Rights. His academic, political, and personal interests in community organizing, social movements, cities, and American history led him to deeply explore Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement in his History courses while becoming involved with anti-poverty, economic justice, and environmental justice work at Duke and in Durham. His interests also led him to spend part of last summer as a Humanity in Action Congressman John Lewis Fellow in Atlanta, Georgia. While learning about the history of civil and human rights in Atlanta and the South more broadly, Gino became captivated by Atlanta’s fraught historical and contemporary interactions with race, class, gender, and equitable urban development. When he decides to take a break, Gino enjoys road trips, traveling, reading, and superhero movies.

In his research project this summer, Gino will travel to Atlanta and New York City to research Southern urban development in Atlanta, Georgia, in the period following the official end of Reconstruction (with the withdrawal of federal troops from the U.S. South in 1877) to the beginning of the Great Depression. Using the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot as a starting point, Gino will use narratives, census data, city maps, newspaper coverage, and other archival sources to discuss emerging tensions in the rapid expansion and urbanization in the emblematic city of the post-war “New South.” Narrated from the perspective of poor and working-class African Americans and whites in turn-of-the-century Atlanta, Gino wants to probe questions like: who claimed a right to Atlanta and a stake in its development? How did poor and / or vulnerable communities respond, organize, and resist? What implications did the 1906 riots in Atlanta have for other Southern cities like Memphis or Charlotte? Finally, how can investigating this period in America’s urban history better inform our understanding of Southern cities today, which remain contentious and segregated sites of economic inequality, gentrification, and over-policing? Gino hopes this project will present a “grassroots” historical perspective on one of the most significant historical moments in American history, the legacy of which still dominates our daily life in 2019.  

 

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