Zeb Larson

Jim Calder

Zeb Larson is a writer, historian, and software developer in Columbus. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a PhD in History in 2019. His research focused on the anti-apartheid movement in the United States and the passage of sanctions against South Africa. He writes about 20th-century U.S. history, food history, and politics

The United States and African Liberation

Even as African Americans fought for their freedom in the United States, they also worked with and were supported by compatriots in colonized parts of Africa struggling for their freedom. Often inspired by the rise of new and exciting leaders in Ghana, Zambia, and elsewhere, a generation of African Americans who had experienced Jim Crow and McCarthyism found that they could learn a great deal from African nationalists and revolutionaries. In turn, they often looked to support nationalists and liberation activists from within the United States.

Mental Illness in the United States and the Search for a Magic Bullet

It’s easy to complain about the system of mental healthcare in the United States as broken. It’s the cry that sounds whenever there’s a mass shooting (ignoring the complicated links between mental illness and violence). But why is it so hard to build a durable system that treats people with compassion? Reviewing the history of mental healthcare, a pattern emerges: long periods of cloistering or warehousing people, followed by short bursts of enthusiasm for miracle cures or quick fixes that don’t pan out. Breaking out of this cycle is vital to creating a more just system.

The anti-apartheid movement in the United States

Activists today look back on the anti-apartheid movement as an inspiration, ranging from climate change activists to the BDS Movement. The movement had humble beginnings; how did it take off so successfully? This talk will focus on the growth of anti-apartheid activism, the different reasons Americans responded to it so strongly, and what lessons it can offer us today.


Zeb Larson

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