Expert On Bottom Up Civil Rights Movement History To Speak In Chattanooga

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

“Beyond Textbooks: Civil Rights Movement History from the Bottom Up,” a presentation by Emilye Crosby, Ph.D., professor of history at SUNY Geneseo, will be held Monday, Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s UC Auditorium at 615 McCallie Ave. This presentation is free and open to the public.

"While there is ample information concerning the Civil Rights Movement’s visible leaders like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and major legislation like the Voting Rights Act, Crosby’s presentation focuses on grassroots organizing," officials said.  "These efforts include the slow, dangerous work often initiated by the young people of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, founded by the college students who initiated the sit-in movement; the crucial role of ordinary people in insisting on their citizenship rights and pushing for broader freedom; and the reality of armed self-defense that was often found in conjunction with voter registration in rural communities."

“Too often, the civil rights struggle in the United States is presented as a movement with a few national leaders, who with the help of the federal government, transformed the United States,” said Michelle Deardorff, Ph.D., department head of political science and public service at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. “When students are taught this narrative and then look around our nation in 2017, they see an immense disconnect. Dr. Crosby is an award-winning scholar whose focus is on the ways in which our local stories of struggle help make change possible. She has spent years listening to the stories of communities who challenged inequities and changed the power structures in their cities. It is this story, in which we are all change agents, that gives us hope for lasting political transformation and a more perfect union.” 

"The presentation will highlight bottom-up movement history, highlighting a wide range of tactics beginning before the big marches and extending after the passage of landmark legislation. This angle demonstrates the importance and power of taking action, even when there is no immediate tangible success, and perhaps most importantly, it highlights the role of unexpected actors. In particular, this presentation showcases how women dominated the movement numerically and were essential participants, strategists, organizers and speakers," officials said.

Dr. Crosby is a professor of history and coordinator of black studies at SUNY Geneseo. She is the author of “A Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi” and editor of “Civil Rights History from the Ground Up.” 

This presentation is sponsored by the Adolph S. Ochs, professor of government, the UTC Department of Political Science and Public Service, the UTC Department of History and the Downtown Council of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.  

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