African-American Studies Lecture Series begins this week

The first installment of the 2013-2014 African-American Studies Lecture Series at Mississippi State will allow the university family and the local community to explore the way people remember history.

Shawn Leigh Alexander, associate professor of African and African-American Studies at the University of Kansas, will visit campus on Tuesday [Oct. 15] to present the lecture "Young Africa and the Struggle for Historical Memory," at 4:30 p.m., in McCool Hall's Taylor Auditorium.

Alexander, also the director of UK's Langston Hughes Center, focuses his research in African-American social and intellectual history of the 19th and 20th centuries. His presentation will examine African-American accounts of the Reconstruction period, from the end of the Civil War in 1865 to 1877.

MSU African-American Studies Director Stephen Middleton explained that Richard Theodore Greener, the first African-American to graduate from Harvard College in 1870, first used the phrase "young Africa" to identify self-determined black scholars and leaders who wanted to uplift the African-American community.

"Professor Alexander will look at historical memory about the Reconstruction period in American history. He will look at the period through the lenses of 'young Africa,' that is, people like Greener, T. Thomas Fortune, W.E.B. Du Bois and others who wrote about Reconstruction," Middleton said. "These black scholars offered a different memory of Reconstruction; and hence, they provide a counter-narrative to the way some whites portrayed the period in ways that were not flattering to black people."

By examining the role of black writers chronicling the years of Reconstruction, the audience will learn how their writings, and others, shape the present view of history, Middleton said.

Alexander completed his doctoral degree at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2004 and has already published several books and anthologies, including "T. Thomas Fortune, the Afro-American Agitator" (University Press of Florida, 2008), "An Army of Lions: The Struggle for Civil Rights before the NAACP" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) and "The Aftermath of Slavery: A Study of the Condition and Environment of the American Negro" (The University of South Carolina Press, 2012).

Upcoming publications by Alexander will include a study of the violence of the Reconstruction period called "Reconstruction, Violence, and the Ku Klux Klan Hearings" (Bedford/St. Martins Press), and a short study of W. E. B. Du Bois for the Roman and Littlefield Library of African American Biography series, titled "W. E. B. Du Bois: An American Intellectual and Activist."

For more information about Alexander's visit or MSU's African-American Studies Lecture Series, contact Linda Miller at or 662-325-0587.

Leah Barbour | Public Affairs

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