Jon Watson is an historian specialising in the history of the struggle for black equality in the United States.
His research concentrates on the experience of African-American civil rights activists and race leaders in the multi-racial environment of Southern California during the twentieth century.
Jon Watson works on the history of the struggle for black equality in the United States. His research concentrates on the experience of African-American civil rights activists and race leaders as they sought to challenge discrimination and further opportunities in the multi-racial environment of Southern California during the twentieth century.
Dr Jon Watson lectures across the humanities programme. He specialises in the history of the struggle for black equality in the United States with a particular emphasis on African Americans in the American West.
His research concentrates on the experience of African-American civil rights activists and race leaders as they sought to challenge discrimination and further opportunities in the multi-racial environment of Southern California during the twentieth century. He is particularly interested in the process by which the Black West was incorporated into the national struggle for racial equality, with its focus on employment and housing rights eventually influencing national campaigns.
Jon's current research investigates the relationship between Booker T. Washington and black communities in California in the early 20th century. His interest lies in exploring the relationship between the pronouncements of the race leader, that accentuated economic progress over civil rights, over a local community with a relatively high number of entrepreneurs and businessmen who, while in agreement with Washington’s economic agenda, had gained some civil rights, were anxious to preserve them.
This research explores how questions of race, class and political economy played out when Washington visited California in January 1903; the trip was well received in the local white press and Washington was lauded every day of the weeklong trip. By considering this event, he will further understanding of how the far West, viewed as outside the national discourse on race and black protest until the 1940s, was actually incorporated into national discussions about race and racial advancement far earlier than is commonly asserted. The initial article will be incorporated into a book-length project, incorporating his DPhil. research, which will explore aspects of grassroots black activism in Los Angeles in the twentieth century.
In addition to these research interests, Jon Watson is also developing resources, and programmes aimed at developing the teaching of history. This has included a website of resources for the study of modern American history and a current project developing a pack of teaching resources exploring the impact of the First World War on Brighton.
Jon has taught American History at a number of British universities and worked as a lecturer at Brighton since 2009. His work is divided between teaching, research and co-ordinating of Widening Participation activities, working to develop programmes to develop an understanding of university life for prospective students and share knowledge and practice with local schools and colleges. He completed his first degree in History at the University of Southampton. He completed his masters degree in American History at the University of Sussex. His DPhil, which explored the history of the Los Angeles branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was awarded by the University of Sussex in 2006.
“Loren Miller and the role of California in Civil Rights Litigation”
University of Reading, Department of History, Spring 2011.
“The Los Angeles NAACP During The Second World War: The Role Of Liberal Civil Rights Protest In The Struggle For Double Victory”. British Association of American Studies Conference, Canterbury, April 2006.
“The Los Angeles NAACP and the Zoot-Suit Riot of 1943”
British Association of American Studies Conference, Aberystwyth, March 2003.
July 2002. James and Sylvia Thayer Research Fellowship.
$4,000 bursary granted by the Charles Young Library, UCLA to research collections for D.Phil. research.