Adriane D. Lentz-Smith

Adriane D. Lentz-Smith

Associate Professor of History

External Address: 
Dept of History, Classroom Bldg, Box 90719, Durham, NC 27708-0719
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90719, Durham, NC 27708-0719
(919) 684-2837
Office Hours: 
By appointment


Adriane Lentz-Smith is Associate Professor and Associate Chair in Duke's department of History where she teaches courses on the Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives, Modern America, and History in Fact and Fiction. A scholar of African American history as well as the histories of the twentieth-century United States and the US & the World, Lentz Smith is author of Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I (Harvard University Press, 2009). The book explores how African Americans worked through ideas of manhood, citizenship, and global encounter to pursue the black freedom struggle during World War I and build the civil rights movement that followed. Her article, “The Unbearable Whiteness of Grand Strategy,” can be found in the forthcoming volume, Rethinking American Grand Strategy(Oxford University Press, 2021).

Her book in progress, "The Slow Death of Sagon Penn: State Violence, and the Twilight of Civil Rights," explores the long aftermath of one man’s devastating encounter with the police in San Diego in 1985. The book traces how state violence and white supremacy remade and sustained themselves in the twilight of the civil rights era. She also has published in journals such as American Quarterly, Modern American History, and Southern Cultures; and served as a consultant to the documentary, “The Jazz Ambassadors” as well as the Library of Congress exhibit, “Echoes of the Great War.” She can be seen on the documentaries, “The Great War,” "Hellfighters," and "Voice of Freedom."

A senior fellow in Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics, Lentz-Smith hosts Kenan’s community conversations series, “The Ethics of Now.” She serves on the advisory board for Duke University Press as well as for the journals Modern American History and Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Yale University 2005

Selected Grants

The Slow Death of Sagon Penn: State Violence and the Twilight of Civil Rights awarded by National Humanities Center (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2021

Voting Rights and the Expansion of Democracy in America: Who Made Possible One Person, One Vote awarded by National Endowment for the Humanities (Collaborator). 2017 to 2020

Challenging the Master Narrative of the Civil Rights Movement awarded by National Endowment for the Humanities (Scholar). 2017 to 2019

Lentz-Smith, A. Freedom Struggles: African Americans & World War I. Harvard University Press, 2009.

Lentz-Smith, A. “Book Review of Chad Williams. Torchbearerers of Democracy: African American Soldiers and the World War I Era.” North Carolina Historical Review, vol. 88, Oct. 2011.

Lentz-Smith, A. “Website Review of Politics of a Massacre: Discovering Wilmington 1898. Created and maintained by Eastern Carolina University.” Journal of American History, vol. 98, June 2011, pp. 309–309.

Lentz-Smith, A. “Book Review of Elizabeth Smith-Pryor. Property Rites: The Rhinelander Trial, Passing, and the Protection of White Supremacy.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 41, 2011, pp. 478–80.

Lentz-Smith, A. “Book Review of Janet Hudson. Entangled by White Supremacy: Reform in World War I-Era South Carolina.” Journal of Southern History, vol. 76, Aug. 2010, pp. 770–71.

Lentz-Smith, A. “"Charles Young," "Brownsville Riot," "W. E. B. Du Bois".” Encyclopedia of War and American Society, edited by Peter Karsten and et al, Sage Publications, 2005.

Bradley, S. M., et al. “On the experiences of black historians.” Modern American History, Jan. 2021, pp. 91–102. Scopus, doi:10.1017/mah.2021.3. Full Text

Lentz-Smith, A. “The laws have hurt me violence, violation, and black women's struggles for civil rights.” Southern Cultures, vol. 26, no. 3, Sept. 2020, pp. 42–66. Scopus, doi:10.1353/SCU.2020.0039. Full Text

Lentz-Smith, A. “Indispensable histories.” Oregon Historical Quarterly, vol. 118, no. 2, June 2017. Scopus, doi:10.5403/oregonhistq.118.2.0264. Full Text

Lentz-Smith, A. “Passports to adventure: African Americans and the US security project.” American Quarterly, vol. 68, no. 3, Sept. 2016, pp. 537–43. Scopus, doi:10.1353/aq.2016.0049. Full Text

Lentz-Smith, A. “Reid’s Obama Blunder and What it Means.” History News Network, Jan. 2010.