Julius S. Scott, author of 'The Common Wind,' dies at 66
By Hillel Italie | AP
NEW YORK — Julius S. Scott, a groundbreaking scholar of slavery and Atlantic history who wove together stories of Black rebellion for a doctoral thesis once likened to “an underground mix-tape” and for the acclaimed 2018 book “The Common Wind,” has died. He was 66.
Scott died early Monday, according to his partner, Elisha Renne, who said that he had suffered from Type 1 diabetes and had been in failing health over the past month. Scott was a professor emeritus at the University of Michigan, where Renne also taught.
“Dr. Scott began teaching at Michigan in 1991 and continued to shape our collective understanding of Atlantic history, slavery, the Haitian Revolution and the lives and struggles of Black peoples from across the African diaspora — and jazz, always jazz — through classroom instruction, symposia, and conversations too numerous to count,” Angela D. Dillard, chair of the school’s history department, said in a statement. “For many of us, these conversations took place in his impossibly book-lined and book-and paper-filled offices.”
Through his teaching, mentoring and writing, Scott was celebrated as a leader and innovator of “history from below,” how enslaved people themselves in the 18th century formed underground communities throughout the Americas, spreading the word through “inter-island mobility — the world of ships and sailors.” The book’s title is drawn from a tribute the British poet William Wordsworth wrote for the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture: “There’s not a breathing of the common wind/That will forget thee.”
Numerous historians shared memories on Twitter this week. Dr Jesús Sanjurjo, a lecturer at Cardiff University, wrote that his work was “foundational” and “helped catalyze a generation of historians of the Atlantic world.” Scott’s book, which had the full title “The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution,” received a Special Achievement Award from the GIlder Lerhman Institute of American History, among other honors.