University of Notre Dame

College of Arts and Letters

Department of Africana Studies


Richard Pierce


John Cardinal O'Hara, C.S.C., Associate Professor of History

Field of Study: African American, Urban, and Civil Rights history (Ph.D., Indiana University)

A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1996, Richard Pierce specializes in African American, Urban, and Civil Rights history, examining social and political protest in urban environments. In July 2002, he accepted an appointment as the Associate Director of African and African American Studies. He was a primary architect in the development of the Erskine A. Peters Dissertation Fellowship Program. Additionally, he convened and organized the African and African American Program’s first symposium on “African American Women’s Labor” in 2000. He was appointed as the inaugural chair of the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2005.

He earned his doctorate at Indiana University. His first manuscript, Polite Protest: The Political Economy of Race in Indianapolis, 1920–1970, was published by Indiana University Press. He was a consultant for the “Faith and Community Initiative” of the Project on Religion and Urban Culture” at POLIS Research Center and For Gold and Glory, an award-winning documentary that depicted the African American automobile racing league of the 1920s. He has published articles and essays that have appeared in the Journal of Urban History, The State of Indiana History 2000, Robert Taylor, ed., Chicago Tribune, and National Public Radio. Most recently, his essay, “In Pursuit of Civil Discourse in the Academy,” was featured in Diverse Magazine, formerly known as Black Issues in Higher Education.

In recent years, he has been awarded multiple fellowship and academic appointments. These include: Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace Fellow (2002); Carl E. Koch Jr., Assistant Professor of History Chair (2000), a Ford Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for African American Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE) at Carnegie Mellon University (2000); and was a member of the Indiana Delegation to Capitol Hill in support of the NEH (1998). In 2004, he was elected to the Indiana Historical Society board of directors.

Currently, Pierce is researching the processes by which African American families and institutions taught Jim Crow to their children in the United States during the time period 1895–1965. The resulting volume, tentatively titled, "Teaching Jim Crow," will examine the methods and strategies African Americans employed to preserve self-esteem within a system designed to dehumanize. He is presently seeking interviews with parents, teachers, and community leaders who reared children during the Jim Crow segregation era to enrich his research.

Office: 451 Decio
Phone: 574-631-7191
Office Hours: by appointment