Victoria W. Wolcott is Professor of History at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. She has published three books: Remaking Respectability: African American Women in Interwar Detroit (2001), Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle Over Segregated Recreation in America (2012) and Living in the Future: The Utopian Strain in the Long Civil Rights Movement (2022). In addition, she has published articles in The Journal of American History, The Radical History Review, and the Journal of Women’s History among others. She is currently working on two book projects: an edited collection Utopian Imaginings: Saving the Future in the Present for SUNY Press’s “Humanities to the Rescue” series and The Embodied Resistance of Eroseanna Robinson: Athleticism and Activism in the Cold War Era, a microhistory of a Black Pacifist activist during the cold war.
This lecture explores how utopian ideas and practices shaped the long civil rights movement. As early as the 1920s there were significant experiments in interracial communalism at labor colleges, folk schools, and urban and rural cooperatives. By the 1940s members of the Congress of Racial Equality and the Fellowship of Reconciliation living in interracial utopian communities began to actively train activists in radical nonviolence. By living cooperatively and communally activists envisioned a future with full racial equality and economic justice.