Dr. Leslie Alexander: Historian. Professor. Author. Activist

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My Story

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I was born on the Southside of Chicago to parents who were committed to social justice and courageously challenged the legal and cultural bans against interracial marriage 



My mother taught me to read and write at a young age and I became a voracious reader...

enthusiastically devouring every book I could get my hands on. 


I especially loved books set in the past, or in alternate realities, with female heroes who saved the day

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Growing up, my older sister and I were not allowed to watch television, so our time was spent reading and inventing wild adventures.  


At dinner time, my dad led us in raucous debates about racial and social justice issues


To this day, our conversations at dinnertime and family gatherings are still consumed with the racial and social justice issues that continue to plague us...  


Perhaps all of this explains why I ultimately became an professor of African American history... 

Why I Became A Historian

Despite my passionate love for books, history, and social justice, I lost my interest in history during junior high and high school. The stories that my disinterested teachers told were not about people who looked like me, and they did not tell the truth about the history of this country and people who built it.... 


So it was not until my sophomore year at Stanford, when I took my first African American Studies class from Dr. Sylvia Wynter that my passion for history was reborn. I can still remember sitting in her classroom and getting chills as she described the horrors of the Trans-Atlantic Trade in Humans. I kept thinking, "why hasn't anyone told me this before?" And I pledged that I would be part of the movement to spread the truth.... 


Thanks to Dr. Clayborne Carson and Dr. Margaret Washington, who introduced me to to the practice of historical research, I embarked on a journey that has led me to become a professor of African American and African Diaspora history.

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