Tyran K. Steward

Photo of Tyran K. Steward

Assistant Professor of History

Hollander Hall Rm 112

On Leave 2023-2024


B.A. Morehouse College (2000)
M.A. Eastern Michigan University (2009)
Ph.D. Ohio State University (2013)


Tyran Steward is a historian of African-American and Modern U.S. History. His research examines political, labor, and social history as well as popular culture and sport. His courses emphasize many of the same themes, primarily focusing on labor and race politics in the North especially during the early twentieth century and the American Interwar Period.

Steward’s book, The Benching of Willis Ward: The Making of a Black Conservative in the Jim Crow North (forthcoming), is the first scholarly examination of Willis Ward, an African-American football pioneer at the University of Michigan and the teammate of future U.S. President Gerald Ford. The book uses Ward’s racist benching in 1934 to trace the development of black conservatism and northern Jim Crow in their emergences in sport and in their fundamental relationship to the workings of formal politics and racial liberalism. The critical intervention here is that this study brings the relatively unexplored world of sport into focus, demonstrating how in the fine grain, materiality of everyday life or even recreation, fascinating sites of racial hierarchy, political reimagining, social retrenchment, and struggle existed.

Prior to coming to Williams, Steward was a Mellon postdoctoral fellow at Carleton College and taught previously at the University of Michigan. He completed a Ph.D. in History at Ohio State University and a B.A. at Morehouse College.

Selected Publications


The Benching of Willis Ward: The Making of a Black Conservative in the Jim Crow North (forthcoming)

Articles and Reviews:

“‘At the University but Not of the University’: The Benching of Willis Ward and the Rise of Northern Racial Liberalism,” American Studies Journal Vol. 55 No. 3 (July 2016). Article in special issue on “Sports in the University” (Guest-edited by Noah Cohan, Daniel Gilbert, David Leonard, Theresa Runstedtler, Tyran Steward, and Lucia Trimbur)

“Time Not Ripe: Black Women’s Quest for Citizenship and the Battle for Full Inclusion at Ohio State University,” Ohio History 121 (March 2014)

Review of May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem, by Imani Perry (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina press, 2018), in Journal of African American History (Summer 2019)

Review of Transpacific Antiracism: Afro-Asian Solidarity in 20th-Century Black America, Japan, and Okinawa, by Yuichiro Onishi, (New York: New York University Press, 2013), in Journal of African American History (Winter 2016)

Review of Martha’s Vineyard Basketball: How a Resort League Defied Notions of Race and Class, by Bijan C. Bayne (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2015), in Sport in American History (August 2015)

Review of Children of Fire: A History of African Americans, by Thomas C. Holt, (New York: Hill & Wang, 2010), in North Carolina Historical Review (October 2012)

Review of Grassroots at the Gateway: Class Politics & Black Freedom Struggle in St. Louis, 1936-75, by Clarence Lang, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009), in Journal of African American History Vol. 97, No. 3 (Summer 2012)

Review of In Search of the Talented Tenth: Howard University Public Intellectuals and the Dilemmas of Race, 1926-1970, by Zachery R. Williams, (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009), in North Carolina Historical Review Vol. 88, No. 4 (October 2011)

Public Writing:

“A Peculiar Kinship,” Williams Magazine, May 2021

“10 Experts on Where the George Floyd Protests Fit into American History,” Time Magazine, June 2020

“Baseball’s Black Problem,” Sport in American History, May 2015

“The Unfinished Struggle: Civil Rights in the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington,” OriginsCurrent Events in Historical Perspective, August 2013

Thesis Advised

Kaylen Smith ’22Material Repentance: The Religion Behind Reparations

Sonia Nyarko’21Returning to Black Internationalism: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Council on African Affairs, 1944-1963 (with Scott Wong)