LaKisha Michelle Simmons is the author of Crescent City Girls: The Lives of Young Black Women in Segregated New Orleans (2015), which won the Southern Association for Women Historians' Julia Cherry Spruill Prize and received an honorable mention for the Association of Black Women Historians' Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Award. She has published articles in American Quarterly, Gender & History, The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, and Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature. Simmons is an assistant professor of history and women's studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she earned her doctorate. Before coming back to Michigan, she taught at Davidson College and at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Simmons is also a co-creator and -organizer of the Global History of Black Girlhood conference, which convened at the University of Virginia in 2017 and from which she is currently coediting an anthology. She is also currently writing a book on the history of black motherhood called "Segregated Motherhood," which explores reproductive health and histories of love and loss in black families, and beginning a new research project on black women's labor in rural Louisiana since Reconstruction.
In this talk, LaKisha Michelle Simmons uses Louisiana sugar plantations as an example to help us understand how we build monuments to the past and whose stories get told (or silenced) in the plantation tours of the present. Simmons argues that Beyoncé Knowles-Carter's visual album Lemonade and artist/photographer Carrie Mae Weems' The Louisiana Project both work to center black women's memories of slavery. Alongside these artistic and popular images of sugar plantations, Simmons also presents the memories of formerly enslaved women.