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Lectures from the Allen Room & Wertheim Study: Teaching Civil Rights Movements through Time


June 6, 2013

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Shortly after graduating from Oberlin College in 1847, abolitionist and women’s rights advocate Lucy Stone remarked, “I expect to plead not for the slave only, but for suffering humanity everywhere. Especially do I mean to labor for the elevation of my sex.” Three years later she was on a national stage at a conference on women’s rights that included noted abolitionists. Stone understood the necessity of a fight that brings rights to all peoples. There were those who felt she and some of the other women present were dupes of the abolitionists. History would unfortunately prove this correct, for when African-American men were given the vote through the 15th Amendment, the abolitionists felt their work was done. It would take another 50 years before women would be granted the right to vote. Recognizing, as Lucy Stone did, that the fight for human rights does not exist in a vacuum, this semester K. Kevyne Baar taught a course, “Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs: The Fight for Equality in the United States,” that looked at the intersection of the three major American movements for African American rights, women’s rights, and gay rights. By using a detailed timeline, it was possible to look back over 160 years of history, comparing and contrasting the three movements as well as examining how events in the United States and around the world informed and changed the dialogue on civil rights as so many fight even today to keep the conversation alive.

K. Kevyne Baar, PhD, a writer in residence in the Library's Wertheim Study, has for the past ten years been an archivist at the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. She entered academic life after a long career in theatre and union organizing. A self-described non-traditional scholar, she brings a wealth of personal experience to bear on the subjects she teaches. As an adjunct in the History Department, she has regularly taught seminars and lecture courses. She is the recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award for 2012 for her course “Women, the Entertainment Industry and the Blacklist Era.” 

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