The images of torch-lit marches and white-power terrorism that flowed out of Charlottesville in August 2017 shocked the nation. But for many Charlottesvillians, it was not unexpected: the city had been under siege for months during what anti-racists activists called “The Summer of Hate.” Why did this group of neo-Nazis and alt-right activists target Charlottesville? How did they build a base here? And where do they fit in the city’s history of black life, white supremacy, and progressive politics?
Nicole Hemmer, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, covered the events of August 11 and 12 for Vox, where she is a columnist. She is the creator, producer, and host of the podcast series “A12: The Story of Charlottesville,” named by The Guardian as one of the best podcasts of 2018.
Hemmer is an expert on the history of American politics and media. As an assistant professor in Presidential Studies at the Miller Center, she works on a wide-ranging set of projects, both scholarly and public. She works in the Presidential Recordings Program, focusing on the Nixon administration and its media relations. Her broader scholarship focuses on the history of conservatism and media. Her first book, Messengers of the Right, Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics, charts the history of conservative media activism in the United States, and her current work-in-progress is a history of conservatism in the 1990s.
Hemmer is also an active public intellectual, appearing frequently in print and on air. She is founder and editor of the Washington Post’s “Made by History” blog, a contributing editor to Vox, and she also writes as a syndicated columnist for Fairfax Media in Australia. She co-hosts and produces the popular history podcast Past Present. Her commentary on U.S. politics has appeared in numerous national and international outlets, including the New York Times, Politico, Atlantic, New Republic, Vox, Los Angeles Times, and NPR’s Morning Edition. She provides regular analysis to Australian and American broadcast outlets, on both radio and television.
Hemmer holds an appointment as a research associate at the United States Studies Center at the University of Sydney, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in 2011-12. She received her PhD in U.S. history from Columbia University, and previously taught at the University of Miami. In 2015, she was a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Ms. Hemmer spoke at the Wednesday June 12, 2019 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held at The Center in Charlottesville. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV past president Bob McGrath.