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The OAH Distinguished Lectureship Program

Martha Biondi

Martha BiondiMartha Biondi is a professor of African American studies and history at Northwestern University. Her research and teaching focus on twentieth-century African American history, with particular attention to grassroots activism, black political thought, gender, labor, and cities. She has written two major studies on the modern black freedom struggle. The first, To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City (2003), argues that the modern civil rights movement began in the urban North. That movement’s association with communist and other radical organizations made it vulnerable to Cold War repression and helps explain how it was subsequently “forgotten.” In The Black Revolution on Campus (2012) she demonstrates how the black student movement of the late 1960s also embraced controversial rhetoric and tactics and how it accelerated after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The rise of open admissions, affirmative action, and black studies dramatically changed collegiate life and intellectual production in the United States. Moreover, the simultaneous fight to save historically black colleges from the threat of integration contributed to a new understanding of racial progress by the 1970s.