Dr. Stephanie Hinnershitz is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Cleveland State University where she specializes in twentieth-century American history. Her research focuses on the intersections of race, citizenship, and war, and she received her PhD from the University of Maryland in 2013. She has published widely on topics including immigration policy, civil rights, and Japanese American internment and also served as the American History and Diversity Studies Fellow at the United States Military Academy at West Point during the 2017-2018 academic year where she completed research on her third book, Wages of War: Forced Labor and Japanese American Incarceration during World War II.
Democracy on Trial: Media Coverage of Japanese American Internment during World War II
President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942 in response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the cries of West Coast politicians who represented constituents inflamed by wartime hysteria, bolstering long-standing anti-Japanese sentiment. Roosevelt’s advisers warned the President against interning American citizens of Japanese descent, citing potential Constitutional conflict and negative American opinions; however, FDR forged ahead with removal and internment, using the Army to carry out the process during the spring and early summer of 1942. Over 120,000 Japanese Americans (the majority American citizens) were forcibly removed from their homes and detained in “camps” from California to Arkansas. How did other Americans respond to this violation of civil and constitutional rights? The answer to this question depends largely on an exploration of medial portrayals of internment during the war. This talk provides textual and visual examples (including government film excerpts and photographs) of media coverage of Japanese American internment and offers discussion about their impact on American perceptions of one of the largest civil rights violations in American history.
Phyllis Schlafly and the Equal Rights Amendment
In 1923, suffragist Alice Paul proposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution. Although women had secured the right to vote with the 19th Amendment, Paul and her supporters believed that language within the Constitution guaranteeing equality for women was the only way to ensure that the hard-earned gains of the suffragists had a lasting impact on politics and society. The ERA was repeatedly introduced in Congress between 1943 and the early 1970s. By 1972, it appeared as though momentum was building for the amendment following the rise of second-wave feminism…until conservative political activist and lawyer Phyllis Schlafly launched an all-out war against it. Schlafly’s opposition to the ERA based on conservative ideas of women’s roles in society reflects the growing power of the New Right political movement in the United States during the 1970s as well as the use of the media by political activists to reach larger and more diverse audiences. This talk provides an opportunity to analyze current trends in conservative activism, discussions on gender and women’s rights, and the use of the media as a political platform from a historical view.
Riots or Uprising? Media Coverage of Cleveland’s Hough Neighborhood in 1966
By July 21, 1966, the predominantly African American Hough neighborhood in East Cleveland had gained state and nation-wide prominence. Local news outlets reported on the riots and unrest that purportedly began a few days earlier when the white owners of a small café and bar denied water and access to black clients. Protests and vandalism of the Seventy-Niner’s Café soon escalated to wide-spread looting and attacks, resulting in the arrival of the Ohio National Guard. Why did the Hough Riots begin? The Cleveland Plan Dealer established what became known as the “official narrative” of the event and blamed black nationalist and communist activists or “outside agitators” for inciting violence in an otherwise calm neighborhood. Other news outlets from across the state and the nation ran with this interpretation despite an earlier report on neighborhoods in East Cleveland revealing that poverty and systematic racism created prime conditions for unrest. In light of more recent protests against racist policing in Baltimore and St. Louis, understanding how media portrayals of Hough in 1966 created lasting narratives leads to debates on whether these events are riots, uprisings, or even revolutions.
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