William (Robert) Billups

Image of Robert Billups


B.A. University of Norte Dame
O.M. University of Cambridge

Research Interests

Twentieth-Century US History
African American History
Civil Rights History
Southern History
Digital History
History of Violence


"'Reign of Terror': Anti–Civil Rights Terrorism in the United States, 1955–1971"

Faculty Advisors

Joseph Crespino
Allen Tullos


Robert Billups researches violence against the US civil rights movement during the mid-twentieth century. Between the mid–1950s and early 1970s, American white supremacists carried out numerous attacks—including hundreds of bombings and arsons—against civil rights activists, allies, and institutions. Though concentrated in southeastern states, anti–civil rights terrorism was a national phenomenon that Robert analyzes through digital maps, charts, and graphs that visualize major patterns of arsons and bombings. He also assesses the political ramifications of racial violence by evaluating when and how law enforcement and Congress reacted to such attacks. His dissertation and related articles employ case studies to analyze how individuals, businesses, and communities experienced anti–civil rights terrorism, resisted it, remembered it, and rebuilt in its wake.

Robert has written book reviews for three scholarly venues and peer-reviewed articles that are forthcoming in the Journal of American History and the Journal of Southern History. He is grateful to the American Jewish Archives, Baylor University’s Texas Collection and Wardlaw Fellowship Fund, Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, Emory University’s Bill & Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry and Center for Digital Scholarship, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, the LBJ Foundation, the Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives, and the University of Alabama’s Frances J. Summersell Center for the Study of the South for supporting his research.

My curriculum vitae

Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • “From Kathy Ainsworth to Vicki Weaver: Martyred Women and White Power,” Journal of American History, (Forthcoming, accepted March 20, 2022).
  • “The Cost of Civil Rights: White Supremacist Violence and Economic Resistance against Koinonia Farm during the Civil Rights Era,” Journal of Southern History, (Forthcoming, accepted December 3, 2021).