OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor

Portrait of Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor
Image Credit: Andrew Greto

Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor, Ph.D, is an associate professor of history at Smith College. Dr. Pryor is the author of an award winning article, “The Etymology of [N-Word]: Resistance, Language and the Politics of Freedom in the Antebellum North” and 2016’s monograph Colored Travelers: Mobility and the Fight for Citizenship before the Civil War. Her new project, which developed out of her research and teaching, is an historical and pedagogical study of the n-word framed, in part, by her experience as a biracial woman in the United States who is also the daughter of iconic comedian Richard Pryor. Dr. Pryor is an award-winning teacher with 10 years experience teaching the n-word; she is Smith College’s Faculty Teaching Mentor for Inclusive and Equitable Pedagogies; and she conducts faculty workshops on navigating the n-word and other racist language in the classroom. Her teaching specialties include 19th century United States history, race and racism, African American women, and the history of U.S. slavery.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

The n-word, a word prevalent in both racist and anti-racist documents, art, literature and politics, and is wreaking havoc across U.S. classrooms. With personal, pedagogical and historical perspective--framed in part by her experience as a biracial woman who is also the daughter of iconic comedian Richard Pryor--Dr. Pryor reflects on some of the reasons the n-word is so hard to talk about.
The story of how "Jim Crow" segregation was invented on the railroads in the antebellum North and how Black activists fought back, thus setting the stage for equal rights protest in the United States.