David Canton

Associate Professor of History
Interim Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion

Joined Connecticut College: 2003

B.A., Morehouse College
M.A., The Ohio State University
Ph.D., Temple University


20th-Century American social history

Civil rights movement

Urban history

Hip Hop music and Black culture in post-industrial America

David Canton believes that African-American urban history illustrates the impact of racism, classism, and sexism in the black community. It also provides insight to the origins of 20th century black urban poverty, civil rights struggle, black class formation, and black community development.

Canton states: "I am interested in African American urban history, civil rights, and northern race relations. Most Americans view racism, segregation, and the civil rights struggle as southern phenomena, but racism, segregation, and the civil rights struggle are an American phenomena." 

C-SPAN’s American History TV took viewers inside a Connecticut College classroom on a recent episode of "Lectures in History," featuring David Canton's class-session lecture, "African Americans in the 1920s," on Nov. 9 and 10, 2013. The lecture can be viewed on the C-SPAN website.

Raymond Pace Alexander book by David CantonDavid Canton's latest book, Raymond Pace Alexander: A New Negro Lawyer Fights for Civil Rights in Philadelphia, was published in May, 2010, by the University Press of Mississippi. The book has been awarded the 2011 W.E.B. Du Bois Book Prize from the Northeast Black Studies Association.

His is the first scholarly study of Raymond Pace Alexander, a prominent African-American lawyer and judge in Philadelphia. Most research on black lawyers and the civil rights struggle focus on the impact of nationally known attorneys, such as Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, William Hastie, and their role in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People desegregation campaign from the 1920s to the 1950s. The NAACP's national civil rights struggle had a greater impact on black southerners. The NAACP's national civil rights struggle was a southern campaign against Jim Crow.

His research explored the role that Raymond Pace Alexander played in the civil rights struggle in Philadelphia. According to Canton, African Americans experienced de facto segregation in the North; however, segregation in northern cities varied. For example, Philadelphia was a northern city with southern race relations; therefore, during the twenties, some white-owned businesses placed Jim Crow signs on the window. White-owned theaters segregated black customers and white-owned restaurants refused to serve African Americans. Canton contends that his research breaks new ground in civil rights historiography. His research complements the national study of the southern civil rights movement with a local northern study.

Canton’s article "Ethnic, Race, and Coalition Politics in Post-Industrial Urban America" is in the Journal of Urban History and his "The Origins of A New Negro Lawyer, 1898-1923" is in The Western Journal of Black Studies. He has written book reviews for the Journal of Southern History and the Journal of Mississippi History. His article, "The Political, Economic, Social, and Cultural Tensions in Gangsta Rap," appeared in Reviews in American History, Volume 34, Number 2, June 2006. A recent article appears in Pennsylvania History, Volume 75, Spring 2008.

Professor Canton is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, Epsilon Iota Iota Chapter, New Haven, Conn.

He served as co-director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program at Connecticut College. He served as director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Connecticut College from 2009-2012. 

Professor Canton has received the following awards: Tempel Summer Institute, Connecticut College (Summer 2004), National Endowment of the Humanities Summer Institute, African American Struggle For Civil Rights 1877-1965 (Summer 2003), Temple University Dissertation Completion Grant, 2000-2001.

View the history department website.

Majoring in history.

Majoring in Africana studies.

Contact David Canton

Mailing Address

David Canton
Connecticut College
Box #5286
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


111 Winthrop Hall