The civil rights battle in post-civil war America is as much about the distribution of wealth as it is about race. That was the message from author and historian Heather Cox Richardson Ph.D., at the annual Constitution Day program at American International College.

Richardson, a professor at Boston College, discussed "Race, Labor and Citizenship: The Post-Civil War Roots of Modern America."

Richardson told the audience that for four generations much of the opposition to granting equal rights has been tied to economics. "As far back as 1870, opponents, particularly white Southerners, claimed that civil rights legislation would take money from taxpayers. In fact, President Andrew Johnson vetoed the Freedman Bureau Act and the Civil Rights Act on the grounds that they take tax dollars from white people and use them to help African Americans, which is essentially a redistribution of wealth" she said.

Students, faculty and members of the community gathered for the event, Wednesday, Sept. 18, in Breck Hall. It was co-sponsored by the AIC Honors Program and the Cultural Affairs Committee

Richardson previously taught at the University of Massachusetts. She received her Ph.D. in 1992 from Harvardís Program in the History of American Civilization.

Committed to bridging the gap between professional historians and the public, Richardson has appeared on a Bill Moyers documentary, "The Chinese in America," and works with two educational consulting firms to train secondary school teachers and conduct public historical seminars. She reviews books for popular media like the Chicago Tribune, as well as a wide range of scholarly journals.