Victoria W. Wolcott is a professor of history at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, where she teaches urban, African American, and women's history. She is the author of Remaking Respectability: African American Women in Interwar Detroit (2001) and Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle over Segregated Recreation in America (2012). Her current book project, "Living in the Future: The Utopian Strain in the Long Civil Rights Movement," focuses on the emergence of experimental interracial communities in mid-twentieth-century America and their influence on the long civil rights movement. She is also researching the life of African American pacifist and civil rights activist Eroseanna Robinson.
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.