In 1985, Sagon Penn, a young black martial-arts expert, was acquitted of the murder of a white police officer on the grounds of self-defence, in a case which lifted a veil on police racism and violence in San Diego. In this talk, Dr. Adriane Lentz-Smith explored this disturbing case and how contrasting martial masculinities played out in a militarized city in a militarized era. The devastating effects of state violence as it travels across communities were examined in an episode that has strong contemporary resonances with more recent examples of the policing of African American communities.
Adriane Lentz-Smith is Associate Professor of History and African & African American Studies at Duke University, and a 2020–2021 NEH and Rockefeller Foundation Fellow at the National Humanities Center. An historian of the twentieth-century United States and the Black freedom struggle, she is the author of Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I (Harvard, 2009).
Matthew Jones is Professor of International History at the LSE. Among other topics, he has published books that look at decolonisation in Southeast Asia in the 1960s; the end of the first Indochina war; race and US foreign policy in post-war Asia; and British nuclear history. He was Head of the Department of International History, 2017-20
This event was held on 9 November 2021 as part of the Race, Gender and Politics in the US seminar series, co-hosted with the Department of International History.
Header image: "National March Against Police Violence Washington DC USA 50309" by Ted Eytan is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0