OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

OAH Distinguished Lectureship program 40 years 1981-2021

Leigh Ann Wheeler

Portrait of Leigh Ann Wheeler

Leigh Ann Wheeler is a professor of history at Binghamton University, State University of New York, where she teaches modern U.S. history, including courses on women, sexuality, sex and law, civil liberties, civil rights, biography, and social movements. She is the author of How Sex Became a Civil Liberty (2014) and Against Obscenity: Reform and the Politics of Womanhood in America, 1873–1935 (2004). A former coeditor of the Journal of Women's History, she also served as a founding senior editor for Oxford University Press's Research Encyclopedia of American History. Since 2018, she has been writing the first biography of Anne Moody, who wrote the unforgettable memoir, Coming of Age in Mississippi (1968).

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

A daughter of Black Mississippi sharecroppers who became a prominent civil rights activist, Anne Moody published her story, COMING OF AGE IN MISSISSIPPI, in 1968, but until now, no one knew what came next. This lecture uses rich primary source material--including rare video footage--to tell the amazing story of Anne Moody's life in the 1970s, writing, speaking, and advocating for human rights in Europe. By focusing on a U.S. civil rights activist who is remembered--by historians and also fans of her memoir--only for her life before 1964 and not at all for the work she did later in Europe, it also raises questions about which stories--and whose stories--survive and why.
Anne Moody is best known for her civil rights activism and her acclaimed memoir, "Coming of Age in Mississippi" (1968). Until now, no one has known what happened in Moody's life after her memoir ends in 1964. This talk shows how her thinking about civil rights evolved in response to her experiences in the South and then in the North. It will also show how Black Power brought voting rights to Moody's hometown of Wilkinson County, Mississippi.