Rachel Devlin is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University specializing in the cultural politics of girlhood, sexuality, and race in the postwar United States. She is the author of Relative Intimacy: Fathers, Adolescent Daughters, and Postwar American Culture (2005). In her most recent book, A Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America's Schools (2018), she draws on interviews and archival research to tell the stories of the many young women who stood up to enraged protestors, hostile teachers, and hateful white students every day while integrating classrooms. Among them were Lucile Bluford, who fought to desegregate the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism before World War II, and Marguerite Carr and Doris Faye Jennings, who as teenagers became the public faces of desegregation years before Brown v. Board of Education. Devlin has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University.
Childhood and Race in America: From Jim Crow to Civil Rights discusses the ways in which black children were taught Jim Crow from everyday experiences, and how they learned the “rules” of segregation from encounters with whites, both young and old. The talk discusses change over time, how Jim Crow affected self-perception amongst black youth, how black and white childhoods differed within the same communities, and how boys and girls experienced Jim Crow differently. The talk ends with a discussion of the significant role of black youth in the civil rights movement—one that was informed both by their status as children and their gender.