Walter C. Rucker

Professor of African American Studies and History

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Originally from Decatur, Walter C. Rucker—Professor of African American Studies and History—earned his BA from Morehouse College and his MA and PhD from the University of California-Riverside. Before his arrival at Emory, he was Professor of History at Rutgers University and a tenured or tenure-track faculty member at UNC-Chapel Hill, the Ohio State University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). A specialist in early Atlantic African diaspora and African American history, his teaching and research focuses on the generative nexus between slave resistance and culture. Professor Rucker has received a range of awards including the Presidential Award for Distinguished Service (ASWAD, 2017), the Ida B. Wells & Cheikh Anta Diop Award for Outstanding Scholarship & Leadership in Africana Studies (NCBS, 2008), the Lawrence Williamson Black Graduate & Professional Student Caucus Service & Mentoring Award (Ohio State, 2007), and the Harold & Esther Edgerton Award for Excellence in Research & Teaching (UNL, 2003).

Professor Rucker’s first book, The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America (2005), tracks diasporic African identity formation through examinations of resistance efforts in colonial British North America and the antebellum U.S. His second book, Gold Coast Diasporas: Identity, Culture, and Power (2015), analyzes the origin and reinvention of “Coromantee” and “(A)mina” as neo-African ethnicities in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century circum-Caribbean. The book assesses the socio-political scripts, cultural technologies, and public performances fashioned by enslaved Gold Coast Africans as part of an emerging and non-Western abolitionist discourse. In addition, he has published a range of book chapters and articles appearing in the Journal of Negro History, the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Scholar as well as two co-edited encyclopedia projects—The Encyclopedia of American Race Riots (2006) and The Encyclopedia of African American History (2010).

Professor Rucker is currently working on two new book projects—“Black Atlantic Crosscurrents: Revolutionary Spaces in the Diasporic Imaginary” and “The Birth of a Notion: A Century of Racial Violence and Mass Incarceration in America.”



Selected Publications:


  • Gold Coast Diasporas: Identity, Culture, and Power. Blacks in the Diaspora Series. (Indiana University Press, 2015).

  • The Encyclopedia of African American History, 3 vols. (ABC-CLIO Press, 2010).

  • The Encyclopedia of American Race Riots, 2 vols. Milestones in African American History Series (Greenwood Press, 2006).

  • The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America. Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World Series. (Louisiana State University Press, 2005).

Articles/Book Chapters:

  • “Religion in the Black Atlantic and the African Diaspora,” in John Corrigan, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Religion in America (Oxford University Press, 2018).

  • “‘Earth from a Dead Negro’s Grave’: Ritual Technologies and Mortuary Realms in the Eighteenth-Century Gold Coast Diaspora,” in Rebecca Shumway and Trevor Getz, eds., Slavery and Its Legacy in Ghana and the Diaspora (Bloomsbury, 2017).

  • “Unpopular Sovereignty: African American Reactions and Resistance to the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act,” in John Wunder and Joann Ross, eds., Nebraska and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 (University of Nebraska Press, 2008).

  • “From Black Nadir to Brown v. Board: Empowerment and Education in Black Georgian Communities, 1865-1954,” (with Sabriya Jubilee) Negro Educational Review (2007), 151-168.

  • “Crusader in Exile: Robert F. Williams and the Internationalized Struggle for Black Freedom in America,” Black Scholar (2006), 19-34.

  • “African Americans and an Atlantic World Culture” in Alton Hornsby, Jr., ed., The Blackwell Companion to African American History (Blackwell Publishers, 2005).

  • “The African and European Slave Trades,” in Alton Hornsby, Jr., ed., The Blackwell Companion to African American History (Blackwell Publishers, 2005).

  • “‘A Negro Nation within the Nation’: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Creation of a Revolutionary Pan-Africanist Tradition,” Black Scholar (2002), 37-46.

  • “‘The Problem of the Color Line’: Lynching, Race Riots, and Identity Formation in Texas, 1890-1920,” The Griot: The Journal of African American Studies (2001), 23-34.

  • “Conjure, Magic, and Power: The Influence of Afro-Atlantic Religious Practices on Slave Resistance and Rebellion,” Journal of Black Studies (2001), 85-104.

  • “‘I Will Gather All Nations’: Resistance, Culture, and Pan-African Collaboration in Denmark Vesey’s South Carolina,” Journal of Negro History (2001), 132-147.