OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

OAH Distinguished Lectureship program 40 years 1981-2021

Mia Bay

Portrait of Mia Bay
Image Credit: Schell Photography, Haliburton, Ontario

Mia Bay is a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of The White Image in the Black Mind: African-American Ideas About White People 1830-1925 (2000) and To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells (2009). She is a coauthor, with Waldo E. Martin and Deborah Gray White, of Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans, With Documents (2012). Her most recent book is on the social history of segregated transportation titled Traveling Black: A Story of Race and Resistance (2021)Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, she taught and directed the Center for Race and Ethnicity at Rutgers University.


NEW IN 2021: Traveling Black, A Story of Race and Resistance (Harvard University Press)

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

A discussion of the early life and thought of black journalist Ida B. Wells (also known as Iola), this lecture examines the origins of her political ideas as they emerged within the context of the racial and sexual politics of the New South. Tracing her career up through the beginnings of her anti-lynching campaign in the 1890s, it argues that Wells’ pioneering crusade against racial violence was shaped in in distinctive ways by her gender and her personal experiences.
Based on her book Traveling Black: A Story of Race and Resistance, Dr. Bay tells the history of the African American experience on segregated transportation from the antebellum era to the present day. Traveling Black explores what it was like to travel in Jim Crow cars, ride at the back of the bus, and navigate a myriad of discriminatory travel accommodations—from whites-only service stations to segregated airline terminals. It underscores that blacks bitterly resented these humiliations and resisted them fiercely, recovering an intertwined history of travel segregation and black struggles for freedom of movement.
This talk focuses on African American ideas about Thomas Jefferson from the American Revolution through to the post-emancipation era. An overview of African American commentary on Jefferson in speeches, letters, books, pamphlets and other available testimony, it explores how such works document the connections between early black struggles for freedom and civil rights and African American claims on American nationalism and citizenship.