I am a historian of 20th century African American history. Before teaching at MIT, I was a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for African American Urban Studies & the Economy (CAUSE). I completed my PhD in the History Department at Harvard University.
My research explores how race, gender, and sexuality affected social movement organizing in the 20th century. My book manuscript, tentatively titled “Living in the Struggle: Black Power, Gay Liberation, and Women’s Liberation Movements in Atlanta, 1964-1996,” examines the activism of poor and working class African Americans after the Civil Rights Act made Jim Crow illegal. My research indicates that a diverse set of activists collaborated to assert control over federal antipoverty programs. This collaboration led to thousands of residents forming coalitions across racial, gender, and sexual lines to continue what they called “the struggle”: a decades long effort to make Atlanta a more just place.
I won the Urban History Association’s Arnold Hirsch Award for Best Article in a Scholarly Journal for my article published in the Journal of American History, “Making Motherhood a Felony: African American Women’s Welfare Rights Activism in New Orleans & the End of Suitable Home Laws, 1959-1962.” The article details how African American women who received money from Aid to Dependent Children in New Orleans made the American welfare state more equitable for Black women throughout the United States. The mothers in New Orleans organized an international campaign to end onerous “suitable home” laws that state legislatures passed in the 1950s. The article demonstrates that their protests compelled mainstream civil rights organizations and the federal government to address racist welfare policies. You can find a PDF of the article here.
I’ve taught a number of courses related to race, gender, and sexuality in American history. These courses include: White Rage: Progress and Backlash in American History, Black Drama and Performance in America, Queering the South: Race, Gender, & Sexuality in the American South, Riots, Strikes, & Conspiracies in American History, Black Radicalism in the 20th Century, and Introduction to African American History. I was a member of the Graduate Tutorial Board in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and led WGS tutorials on a range of topics including the gay liberation movement, Afrofuturism in literature, and HIV/AIDS in Europe.
I hold a B.A. in African American Studies & History from the University of Rochester. I also attended Jefferson Community College. Before starting graduate school, I worked for three years at the Legal Aid Society of Rochester as a Housing Coordinator.
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