Professor Stephen Tuck

Featured Publication

We Ain't What We Ought To Be (2011)

We Ain't What We Ought To Be

In this exciting revisionist history, Stephen Tuck traces the black freedom struggle in all its diversity, from the first years of freedom during the Civil War to President Obama's inauguration. As it moves from popular culture to high politics, from the Deep South to New England, the West Coast, and abroad, Tuck weaves gripping stories of ordinary black people - as well as celebrated figures - into the sweep of racial protest and social change. The drama unfolds from an armed march of longshoremen in post-Civil War Baltimore to Booker T. Washington's founding of Tuskegee Institute; from the race riots following Jack Johnson's 'fight of the century' to Rosa Parks' refusal to move to the back of a Montgomery bus; and from the rise of hip hop to the journey of a black Louisiana grandmother to plead with the Tokyo directors of a multinational company to stop the dumping of toxic waste near her home. "We Ain't What We Ought To Be" rejects the traditional narrative that identifies the Southern non-violent civil rights movement as the focal point of the black freedom struggle. Instead, it explores the dynamic relationships between those seeking new freedoms and those looking to preserve racial hierarchies, and between grassroots activists and national leaders. As Tuck shows, strategies were ultimately contingent on the power of activists to protest amidst shifting economic and political circumstances in the U.S. and abroad. This book captures an extraordinary journey that speaks to all Americans - both past and future.

The Night Malcolm X Spoke at the Oxford Union: A Transatlantic Story of Antiracist Protest (2014)

Night Malcolm X

Less than three months before he was assassinated, Malcolm X spoke at the Oxford Union the most prestigious student debating organization in the United Kingdom. The Oxford Union regularly welcomed heads of state and stars of screen and served as the training ground for the politically ambitious offspring of Britain's "better classes". Malcolm X, by contrast, was the global icon of race militancy. For many, he personified revolution and danger. Marking the fiftieth anniversary of the debate, this book brings to life the dramatic events surrounding the visit, showing why Oxford invited Malcolm X, why he accepted, and the effect of the visit on Malcolm X and British students. Stephen Tuck tells the human story behind the debate and also uses it as a starting point to discuss larger issues of Black Power, the end of empire, British race relations, immigration, and student rights. Coinciding with a student-led campaign against segregated housing, the visit enabled Malcolm X to make connections with radical students from the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia, giving him a new perspective on the global struggle for racial equality, and in turn, radicalizing a new generation of British activists. Masterfully tracing the reverberations on both sides of the Atlantic, Tuck chronicles how the personal transformation of the dynamic American leader played out on the international stage.


The Other Special Relationship: Race, Rights, and Riots in Britain and the United States ( Palgrave Macmillan, June 2015).

The Other Special Relationship

The diplomatic "special relationship" between the US and UK has received much attention from historians, while their shared history of racial inequality and civil rights struggles have been relatively understudied. This collection explores this other "special relationship," expanding our historical understanding of the global civil rights movement.


  • Anti-racist protest in the USA, including connections/comparisons abroad
  • Religion, racism and protest in the USA, including connections/comparisions abroad
  • Writing US history

My research interests include modern race equality struggles in Britain and America, the relationship between religion and racism, and the writing of national history. My most recent books are The Night Malcolm X Spoke at the Oxford Union: A Transatlantic Story of Antiracist Protest (Berkeley, 2014); (with Nicolas Barrerye, Michael Heale and Cecile Vidal) You the People: writing American history abroad (California, 2014), and (with Robin Kelley) The other special relationship: race and rights in Britain and America (Palgrave, 2015). Previous books include an interpretative synthesis of the long struggle for civil rights in the United States, We Ain't What We Ought To Be: the black freedom struggle from emancipation to Obama (Cambridge, Mass, 2010). Some audiovisual links for the people and events mentioned in the book are available at (
My current project is exploring the effect of white supremacy on religious faith.

  • Race not Place: The Invasion, and Possible Retreat, of British Historians of the American South

  • The Doubts of Their Fathers: The God Debate, and the Conflict between African American Churches and Civil Rights Organizations between the World Wars

  • Evangelicals and Race

  • The Other Special Relationship: Race, Rights, and Riots in Britain and the United States

  • Fictions of Speculation Response

  • Powerless at Home, Dangerous Abroad

  • The March on London: British-American connections during the civil rights movement

  • The Night Malcolm X Spoke at the Oxford Union: A Transatlantic Story of Antiracist Protest

  • Constraints, Opportunities, and the Decision to Pursue Business Ownership: Industry Choice among African American Owners of Small Businesses

  • AHR Roundtable You the People

  • More

Current DPhil Students

  • Imaobong Umoren
  • Brian Kwoba
  • Michael Joseph
  • Evan Matsuyama
  • Todd Carter

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students in area of race and religion in modern America (including connections/comparisons abroad) or any potential Masters students studying US history MSt.; Social and Economic History MPhil

I currently teach:


Approaches Modern American History (General History XVI & XVII)
  Special Subject: Race, Religion and Resistance in Jim Crow America 
  Disciplines in History
In the Media

Links for Malcolm X in Oxford Union:

Link for audio visual material for 'we aint what we ought to be':

Link for UNIQ summer school course: