Alison M. Parker is History Department Chair and Richards Professor of American History at the University of Delaware. She has research and teaching interests at the intersections of gender, race, disability, citizenship and the law in U.S. history. She majored in art history and history at the University of California, Berkeley and earned a PhD from the Johns Hopkins University. In 2017-2018, Parker was an Andrew W. Mellon Advanced Fellow at the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University, where she worked on her biography of the civil rights activist and suffragist Mary Church Terrell: Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell (2020). Her op-ed “When White Women Wanted a Monument to Black ‘Mammies,’” appeared in the New York Times Sunday Review. Parker is the author of two other historical monographs, Articulating Rights: Nineteenth-Century American Women on Race, Reform, and the State (2010) and Purifying America: Women, Cultural Reform, and Pro-Censorship Activism, 1873-1933 (1997). She has also co-edited three anthologies and authored numerous articles and book chapters. While a faculty member at the State University of New York, College at Brockport, Parker was awarded the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity (2012). Her next book project is a study of the civil rights activist, Mary Hamilton, the first female field director for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Parker serves as the founding editor of the Gender and Race in American History book series for the University of Rochester Press. As a co-chair of the Anti-Racism Initiative at the University of Delaware, Parker is building a coalition of students, faculty, and staff promoting a wide-ranging anti-racism agenda. She is trained to lead antiracism and racial justice workshops and community conversations and is working to recruit and retain a diverse community of faculty and students.
Black women of all classes have been at the forefront of movements for civil rights and economic justice. At the turn of the century, National Association of Colored Women leaders like Mary Church Terrell helped create day nurseries and kindergartens for working mothers as well as demanded justice for black women wrongly imprisoned for defending themselves against white men’s sexual assaults. Workers’ rights were an integral part of the black freedom struggle. Cross-class collaborations continued during the Cold War, as Terrell joined the picket lines of black women in the United Cafeteria and Restaurant Workers union who refused to sign a required pledge of anti-communism.