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Professor Simon Balto Wins National Book Award


Congratulations to Professor Simon Balto who is the 2019 Hooks National Book Award Winner for his first book, Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power.

The Hooks Institute’s National Book Award is presented annually to a non-fiction book that best furthers understanding of the American Civil Rights Movement and its legacy.

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis has selected Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power by Dr. Simon Balto as the winner of its 2019 Hooks National Book Award. In his book, Balto chronicles how, since the Great Migration of African Americans to northern cities such as Chicago, policing served as a brutal form of racial discipline. Despite the protests of Black Chicagoans, those practices continued over the course of the twentieth century.
“Simon Balto’s Occupied Territory is a powerful work of history that speaks directly to our current crisis over race and policing,” says Hooks Book Award committee chair Aram Goudsouzian, professor of History at the UofM. “His research is meticulous, his writing is engaging, and his conclusions are both provocative and convincing. Although focused on one city, Occupied Territory informs a national conversation about the racist foundations of the criminal justice system.”

“I’m so delighted and humbled to win this reward, especially given the remarkable pool of finalists that my book was part of,” says Balto. “It’s an honor just to have been in company with these other scholars, let alone to have been selected as the Hooks Prize winner from amongst them. I hope my book helps people make some sense of both our present and past, and that I can contribute in at least some small way to how we navigate the future.”

You can view the official announcement as well as see the other nominees, here.


Occupied Territory