Laurie Green is an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is also affiliated with the Center for Women's and Gender Studies, the African and African diaspora studies department, and the American studies department. She teaches courses on civil rights history from a comparative perspective, women's history, social and cultural history, and the history of gender, race, and national identity in twentieth-century America. Her first book, Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle (2007), won the Philip Taft Labor History Book Award and was a finalist for the OAH Liberty Legacy Foundation Award. Her current book project is entitled "The Discovery of Hunger in America: The Politics of Race, Poverty, and Malnutrition after the Fall of Jim Crow."
Although most books on the Civil Rights Movement refer to it as a "freedom struggle," far fewer delve deeply into the meanings of freedom a century removed from the Emancipation Proclamation. In addition, most works focus nearly exclusively on the well-known campaigns against segregation and disfranchisement. In this talk, Green brings a new view to this history by discussing struggles of the quarter century after World War II as challenges to the "plantation mentality." This term, used by many local activists, encompasses not only these best known protest movements, but also those addressing such issues as labor, the censorship of popular culture, neighborhood problems, and police brutality.