EMU Women's History Month features author Bettye Collier-Thomas

by Pamela Young, Published March 16, 2009

YPSILANTI — Bettye Collier-Thomas, noted author and historian, will be the keynote speaker for Women’s History Month at Eastern Michigan University Wednesday, March 18, 7 p.m. 202 Porter.  Collier-Thomas will present, “The Nexus: Women, Religion, Race and Civil Rights.”

The event is free and open to the public.

A history professor at Temple University, Collier-Thomas is currently a resident fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer for 2008-2011.

Collier-Thomas challenges conventional approaches to the history of the Civil Rights movement. By stretching historical parameters, she will document how African American women were engaged in organized struggles for civil rights before 1954.

She’ll also focus on the interracial movement of the 1940s, where religion facilitated the civil rights activism of black and white women, and the limits of strategies employed by religious groups in advancing the struggle for racial justice and equality.

An author and editor of numerous books on African American women and politics, she is currently working on a book about black women and politics. 

Her latest book, “Jesus, Jobs and Justice: The History of African American Women and Religion,” will be published by Alfred Knopf in March 2010.            Previous works include “Daughters of Thunder: Black Women Preachers and Their Sermons, 1850-1979,” “My Soul is a Witness: A Chronology of the Civil Rights Era, 1954-1964,” and the award-winning “Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement.”

Collier-Thomas founded and served as the first executive director of the Bethune Museum and Archives in Washington, D.C., the nation’s first institution to focus solely on black women’s history. Now part of the Park Service, the National Historic Site honors Mary McLeod Bethune, a noted African American educator who headed a division of the National Youth Administration under President Franklin Roosevelt.

A recipient of numerous awards, Collier-Thomas has held fellowships at the National Humanities Center and Princeton University.

For more information, call 734.487.1177. Additional Women’s History Month activities are at http://www.emich.edu/wstudies/whmonth.html#tech

Pamela Young

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