Suzanne E. Smith

Portrait of Suzanne E. Smith
Image Credit: George Mason University

Suzanne E. Smith specializes in African American history with a particular interest in exploring how the history of African American entrepreneurship can transform our understanding of African American culture. She regularly teaches courses in African American history, American popular music, and civil rights and citizenship. Her first book, Dancing in the Street: Motown and the Cultural Politics of Detroit (1999), examines Motown and its relationship to the black community of Detroit and the civil rights movement. Her second book, To Serve the Living: Funeral Directors and the African American Way of Death (2010), explores the central role of funeral directors in African American life. She has given numerous radio and television interviews on the BBC, NPR, and C-Span as well as public lectures at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Berklee College of Music, and the National Funeral Directors Association annual meeting. She has also contributed to various documentary projects including: Boss: The Black Experience in Business, (PBS, 2019) and Hitsville: The Making of Motown (Showtime, 2019). Her current project is a cultural biography entitled, “The Best-Known Colored Man”: Race, Religion, and the Rise of Elder Lightfoot Michaux.

OAH Lectures