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Marshall to host series of lectures on civil rights movement

Sep. 16, 2012 @ 02:09 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University is hosting a series of lectures on the civil rights movement that started Tuesday, Sept. 11 and will conclude Nov. 13.

Each lecture will be at 7 p.m. in the Erickson Alumni Center. They will be free and open to the public. Each lecture will be about 45 minutes long with a 15 minute question and answer session.

"I'm co-teaching a course this semester with Joan Browning who was one of the original freedom riders in 1961," said Dr. David Trowbridge, associate professor of history. "We started talking about what we wanted this class to be on, and she wanted this to move beyond the standard narrative that was covered in the 'Eyes on the Prize' documentary. They've heard stories about that 1960s sit-in at the counter in Woolworth's at least eight times, but they haven't heard about any other sit-ins. There were sit-ins and protests in the North from the 1920s forward."

The first guest lecturer was Dr. Tomas J. Sugrue.

The next lecture will be Sept. 25, and be hosted by Tracy E. K'Meyer. K'Meyer is the author of "Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South" which covers the history of the civil rights movement in Louisville, Ky.

"The idea was to have a book on a community not too far from here," Trowbridge said. "The story of the civil rights struggle was local history. It's a story of the power of communities to come together. I thought that it was appropriate to look at a community not too different from our own where the movement lasted from the 1930s to the 1960s."

Dr. Hasan Kwame Jefries will take the stage Oct. 9. Jeffries is the author of "Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama's Black Belt" and will discuss the original Black Panther Party.

"A lot of people don't know anything about the original Black Panther Party which was a political party formed to confront the Democrat party, which in Alabama was White only," Trowbridge said. "So African Americans formed their own party. The name Black Panther came from an obscure rule in Lowndes County where if you registered a political party you had to have an emblem or a mascot. They chose the black panther because it's a strong animal. Later the people in Oakland heard what happened in Lowndes County and wanted the same emblem."

If there is one name that remains synonymous with the Civil Rights movement its it's Rosa Parks. But the story of Rosa Parks extends far beyond her famous bus ride in 1955 and the subsequent bus boycott in Montgomery. The contributions of Parks and women like her will be addressed by Danielle McGuirre on Oct. 23. McGuire is the author of "At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance a New History of the Civil Writes Movement." In 2011 her book won the Fredrick Jackson-Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians.

"A lot of people have this image of Rosa Parks as this sweet old lady who didn't do anything until one day she didn't want to give up her seat on a bus," Trowbridge said. "In her own narratives years later there's this sense of exsperation over the fact that all people wanted to talk about was about this one day. Parks worked with the NAACP where she traveled around the South dealing with situations of domestic violence. Often you had situations where a black maid working in the home of a white family was a victim and couldn't go to the police."

Dr. John Glen will speak on Nov. 6 about his book "Highlander: No Ordinary School." It covers the history of desegregation in Appalachia.

"Highlander was a school in eastern Tennessee which was a place where by the late 1950s people became very interested in the desegregation of schools and how to make that work in Appalachia," Trowbridge said. "Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and many others came to Highlander to train and discuss techniques."

The subject of the role women played in the civil rights movement will be discussed in the final lecture Nov. 13. Guest speaker Dr. Collier-Thomas is the author of "Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement."

"It's strange we focus so much on men when the majority of the rank and file as well as many of the strongest leaders in the movement were women," Trowback said. "It sort of follows the organization of a church, which is fitting as many black churches played such a big role in the movement. If you look at the organization of most churches the pastor is a man, but women are doing the bulk of the work. "