Baylor History Department Hosts Lecture on Unlikely Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement

Feb. 3, 2015
Black history month

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Media contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (Feb. 3, 2015) – In honor of Black History Month, the Baylor University’s department of history will host scholar Debbie Z. Harwell, Ph.D., managing editor for Houston History magazine. Harwell will present a lecture based on her book, “Wednesdays in Mississippi: White Gloves and Quiet Power as Catalysts for Change,” at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5, in Morrison Hall, Room 120.

“This book is significant in that it gives us a very different picture of who was involved in the civil rights movement. First and foremost, it emphasizes the role women played in civil rights activities,” said James SoRelle, Ph.D., Baylor professor of history.

Harwell’s book tells the story of a group of middle-aged, middle-class African-American and white women in the North during the mid-1960s. Inspired by the upcoming Freedom Summer campaigns, teams of women sponsored by the National Council of Negro Women began to fly down to Mississippi to meet with middle-aged, middle-class African-American and white women in the South. Their goal was to ease concerns among white Mississippians who were suspicious of the young “radicals” participating in the Freedom Summer projects, a campaign in Mississippi for black suffrage.

“These women operated behind the scenes and presented a less threatening image of civil rights activism,” SoRelle said.

Harwell attended Texas Christian University where she was an honors graduate in speech communication. She went on to complete an M.A. in women’s studies at the University of Memphis. She earned her Ph.D. in history at the University of Houston in 2012, where she continues to teach courses on United States and Houston history for the Honors College.

Houston History is a magazine published by the Center for Public History at the University of Houston.

Morrison Hall is located at 1410 S. Fifth St. in Waco.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

by Sarah Czerwinski, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

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