Leslie Brown, a Duke graduate and historian of the civil rights movement, teaches as an Associate Professor of History at Williams College. Prior to 2008, Brown taught a range of courses about race, gender, documentary studies, American and African American History and oral history at various colleges and universities including Duke University, Skidmore College and Washington University in St. Louis. She is the author of Upbuilding Black Durham: Gender, Class and Black Community Development in the Urban South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008) and is the winner of the 2009 Frederick Turner Jackson Prize for the best book in U.S. History written by a first time author, awarded by the Organization of American Historians. From 1990-1995, Brown co-coordinated “Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South”, a collaborative research and curriculum project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke.
Dr. Brown spoke at Duke in the Borderwork(s) Lab on September 13, 2013 on “Civil Rights Movements: Chronologies, Contexts, and the Classroom.” It was sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center@FHI and supported by RightsConnect, a Humanities Writ Large Emerging Networks Initiative.
Kelly Carroll (’16) interviewed Dr. Brown prior to her visit on how valuable she believes a civil rights curriculum is to a university that was included in an article in DukeToday. Here is an excerpt from the interview.
KC: Is it important for university level students to gain an education in civil rights? How do you think this might prepare them differently than students without this education for life after college?
LB: It is an imperative, in my opinion, for students to get an education on civil rights, and for many reason. First because I think it is important to know the past and to know how we got to where we are now, personally, institutionally, nationally, and globally. In a world that sees rights as a critical part of citizenship (national and global), knowing something about the topic helps us all to understand the demands of the present. Secondly, it is important as a critique: what do we mean by civil rights? How is that different from individual rights? Third, I think students should be able to see themselves not just as historical inheritors, but as historical actors in the ongoing struggle for rights. In so many places, not just the US, it is ordinary people who create the most extraordinary change. One need not be a leader or a hero, but at least a participant. Finally, I think that as students for out into the world beyond college, they can and should share that knowledge with others whom the meet and with whom the work. READ MORE.
Full video of Leslie Brown’s talk