James Oliver Horton is the Benjamin Banneker Professor of American Studies and History at George Washington University and Director of the Afro-American Communities Project of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. He received his Ph.D. in history from Brandeis University in 1973. He was Senior Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Munich, in Germany (1988-89) and has also lectured throughout Europe and in Thailand and Japan. In 1991 he assisted the German government in developing American Studies programs in the former East Germany. In 1993 Professor Horton was appointed by Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to serve on the National Park System Advisory Board and in 1996 he was elected board chair. In 1994-5 he served as Senior Advisor on Historical Interpretation and Public Education for the Director of the National Park Service.
He has served as historical advisor to several museums in the United States and abroad, including the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN, Colonial Williamsburg, and Monticello. An advocate of public history, he has been historical consultant to numerous film and video productions including those seen on ABC, PBS, the Discovery Channels, C-Span TV, and the History Channel. He was historical consultant to and appeared in the PBS series “Africans in America” and The American Experience Series “John Brown’s Holy War.” Other PBS appearances include ” Duke Ellington’s Washington,” and “New England and the Civil War.” Professor Horton appears regularly on The History Channel including the film, "The Underground Railroad," “The History of the U.S. Marshals,” The Bounty Hunters,” and as the subject of an episode in The History Channel series, "Great Minds in American History," hosted by Roger Mudd. He provides historical commentary on the Civil War which is included in the DVD version of the movie "Glory" and he is a regular panelist on The History Channel's weekly program, "The History Center." Most recently, Professor Horton appeared on the C-SPAN American Writers series focusing on Abraham Lincoln. He is also host of the TV Special, “A Fragile Freedom: African American Historic Sites” on The History Channel in February, 2002, based on his forthcoming book from Oxford University Press, The Landmarks of African American History.
From 1998 to 2000, Professor Horton served on the White House Millennium Council, acting as historical expert for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. He traveled with the First Lady's "Save American Treasures" bus tour of historic places in the summer of 1998 and accompanied her on a tour of historic sites in Boston in the winter of 1998. In the fall of 2000, he was one of two historians appointed by President William Clinton to serve on the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.
Professor Horton has been recognized for excellence in scholarship and teaching, receiving The Carnegie Foundation, CASE Professor of the Year for the District of Columbia, in 1996 and the Trachtenberg Distinguished Teaching Award for George Washington University, 1994. He is the recipient of the 2002 Distinguished Alumni Award from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Professor Horton has published numerous articles and seven books including Free People of Color: Inside the African American Community (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993) The History of the African American People (Salamander Books, Ltd., 1995), co-edited with Lois E. Horton and In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Protest, and Community Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860, coauthored with Lois E. Horton (Oxford University Press nominee for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in History). In 1999 he co-authored with Norbert Finzsch and Lois E. Horton, Von Benin Nach Baltimore: Geschichte der African Americans written in German and published in Hamburg, Germany by the Hamburger Edition. Professor Horton has recently completed a new book entitled Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America (Rutgers University Press, 2001). He is also the editor of the Oxford University Press series, "The Landmarks of American History." (12 projected volumes, 2000-2002).
Appointed by the President of the United States of America.
Sculptor Avard T. Fairbanks. Dedicated on February 12, 1944 at the Ewa Plantation School in Ewa, Hawaii, on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu.