When the Fascists Came to Town:
Charlottesville and the Rise of the Alt-Right
Nicole Hemmer, University of Virginia Miller Center
The images of torchlit marches and white-power terrorism that flowed out of Charlottesville in August 2017
shocked the nation. But for many Charlottesvillians, it was not unexpected: the city had been under siege
for months during what anti-racists activists called "The Summer of Hate." Why did this group of neo-Nazis
and alt-right activists target Charlottesville? How did they build a base here? And where do they fit in the
city's history of black life, white supremacy, and progressive politics?
Nicole Hemmer, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, covered the events of
August 11 and 12 for Vox, where she is a columnist. She is the creator, producer,
and host of the pod cast series "A 12: The Story of Charlottesville," named by The
Guardian as one of the best podcasts of 2018.
Hemmer is an expert on the history of American politics and media. As an assistant
professor in Presidential Studies at the Miller Center, she works on a wide-ranging
set of projects, both scholarly and public. She works in the Presidential Recordings
Program, focusing on the Nixon administration and its media relations. Her broader
scholarship focuses on the history of conservatism and media. Her first book,
Messengers of the Right, Conservative Media and the Transformation of American
Politics, charts the history of conservative media activism in the United States, and
her current work-in-progress is a history of conservatism in the 1990s.
Hemmer is also an active public intellectual, appearing frequently in print and on air.
She is founder and editor of the Washington Post's "Made by History" blog, a
contributing editor to Vox, and she also writes a syndicated columnist for Fairfax Media in Australia. She co-
hosts and produces the popular history pod cast Past Present. Her commentary on U.S. politics has appeared
in numerous national and international outlets, including the New York Times, Politico, Atlantic, New Republic,
Vox, Los Angeles Times, and NPR's Morning Edition. She provides regular analysis to Australian and
American broadcast outlets, on both radio and television.
Hemmer holds an appointment as a research associate at the United States Studies Centre at the University
of Sydney, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in 2011-12. She received her PhD in U.S. history from
Columbia University, and previously taught at the University of Miami. In 2015, she was a visiting fellow at the
The program will be moderated by Bob McGrath, SSV past president.
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