William D. Green Wins the 2016 Hognander Minnesota History Award

Augsburg history professor William D. Green wins the 2016 Hognander Minnesota History Award for his book Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865–1912.

We are pleased to announce William D. Green as the winner of the 2016 Hognander Minnesota History Award for his book Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865–1912, published in 2015 by University of Minnesota Press. This biennial award, supported by the Hognander Family Foundation, recognizes and celebrates the most outstanding scholarly work published in the previous two years on a topic of Minnesota history. The award was last presented to Gwen Westerman and Bruce White in 2014 for Mni Sota Makoce, The Land of the Dakota. Mary Lethert Wingerd won the inaugural award in 2012 for North Country: The Making of Minnesota.

Spanning the half-century after the Civil War, Degrees of Freedom draws a rare picture of black experience in a northern state and of the nature of black discontent and action within a predominantly white, ostensibly progressive society. Green reveals little-known historical characters among the black men and women who moved to Minnesota following the Fifteenth Amendment and delves into the delicate balance of power between black activists and our progressive white society. Within this absorbing, often surprising, narrative we meet “ordinary” citizens, like former slave and early settler Jim Thompson and black barbers catering to a white clientele, but also personages of national stature, such as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. Du Bois, all of whom championed civil rights in Minnesota. And we see how, in a state where racial prejudice and oppression wore a liberal mask, black settlers and entrepreneurs, politicians, and activists maneuvered within a restricted political arena to bring about real and lasting change.

A professor of history at Augsburg College and the former superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools, William D. Green is also the author of A Peculiar Imbalance: The Fall and Rise of Racial Equality in Minnesota, 1837-1869. He has published many pieces on history and law, including work in Minnesota History and The Journal of Law and Politics, as well as editorials in the Star Tribune.

The Hognander Minnesota History Award stems from the Hognander family’s belief in the importance of studying and preserving history. As Joe Hognander notes, “We established this award because of our relationship with the Minnesota Historical Society. Its commitment to excellence is noteworthy in promoting scholarly research and writing. We hope this award will inspire more such activity by recognizing and rewarding the finest work in this field.”

Green will be honored on Saturday, April 16, at the 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony at Saint Paul’s Union Depot. Awards will also be presented in eight book categories, as well as the annual Book Artist Award and Kay Sexton Award. Tickets are on sale now.

For more information on the Minnesota Book Awards, visit www.mnbookawards.org, or call 651-222-3242.

About the Minnesota Book Awards:
The Minnesota Book Awards is a statewide, year-round program of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library that supports readers and writers statewide, moving beyond the book, into the community. The program was created in 1988 by The Friends and other organizations as a part of the Festival of the Book. In 2012, The Friends was designated the Minnesota Center for the Book—the state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. To learn more about the Minnesota Book Awards and the Center for the Book, please visit www.thefriends.org/mnbookawards.