portrait of Simon Balto

Simon Balto is an assistant professor of history and College of Letters and Science Mary Herman Rubinstein Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the author of the multi-award-winning Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power (University of North Carolina Press, 2019). He is a regular contributor for The Guardian, and has written for multiple scholarly and popular publications, including TIME, The Washington Post, The Baffler, American Quarterly, The Journal of African American History, and The Journal of Urban History. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

He is currently at work on three new projects. White Innocents: Terror, Racism, and Innocence in the Making of Modern America (Liveright) is a history of white mob terrorism in the United States from Reconstruction to the civil rights era, and of the refusals and incapacities of the nations’ assorted “criminal justice systems” to reckon with it. “I am a Revolutionary”: The Political Life and Legacy of Fred Hampton (Haymarket) is a biography of the life and political afterlife of Fred Hampton, leader of the Illinois Black Panther Party, who was murdered by the FBI and the Chicago Police Department in 1969 at the age of twenty-one. The last, titled “Racial Framing: Blackface Criminals in Jim Crow America,” explores the history of white people donning blackface when committing crimes, black condemnations of and campaigns against the practice, and what that history shows us about racial condemnation and racist conceptions of criminality in the United States.