Women and Police Power from Segregation to Gentrification

Endorsed by Women and Social Movements in the United States,1600–2000

Saturday, April 2, 2022, 8:45 AM - 10:15 AM

Type: Panel Discussion

Tags: African American; Crime and Violence; Gender and Sexuality


With Anne Gray Fischer’s recently published book, The Streets Belong to Us: Women and Police Power from Segregation to Gentrification, as a point of departure, panelists will extend key insights from gender history and carceral studies to ask: how has law enforcement targeting women transformed police power, and cities themselves, across the twentieth century? Scholars of gender history, law enforcement, and urban history will interrogate how sexism and racism contributed to the legitimization, legalization, and consolidation of police authority in cities from the era of segregation to our present-day regime of gentrification.

Session Participants

Chair: Rhonda Y. Williams, Vanderbilt University
Rhonda Y. Williams is Professor of History and John L. Seigenthaler Chair in American History at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of the award-winning The Politics of Public Housing: Black Women's Struggles against Urban Inequality (2004) and Concrete Demands: The Search for Black Power in the 20th Century (2015). Williams is the author of numerous articles and essays, including the forthcoming book chapter titled “Women, Gender, Race, and the Welfare State” in the Oxford Handbook for Women’s and Gender History, co-edited by Lisa Materson and Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor. Williams is also the co-editor of the book series Justice, Power, and Politics at the University of North Carolina Press and is co-editor of Teaching the American Civil Rights Movement.

Panelist: DeAnza Avonna Cook, Harvard Graduate School of Arts &Sciences
DeAnza A. Cook (she/her) began her doctoral studies at Harvard as a Presidential Scholar in the fall of 2017. Cook’s graduate research specializes on the development of police reform, police science, and police-community relations in major American cities in the post-Civil Rights era. Her forthcoming dissertation traces the rise of proactive “community-oriented” and “problem-oriented” policing in Greater Boston and beyond and examines the role of the police, police partners, and African Americans in revamping police business at the dawn of the twenty-first century. At Harvard, Cook serves as a Teaching Fellow and Course Development Fellow for the History Department and History & Literature Program. She is also an undergraduate advisor and Resident Tutor at Cabot House. She has volunteered with the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier since October 2018. Cook received a Presidential Public Service Fellowship award to evaluate the Center’s Constitutional Policing curriculum in the summer of 2019, and she is the course administrator for a new multidisciplinary seminar on Civil Rights, Law Enforcement, and The Constitution for law enforcement officers in her home state of Virginia.

Panelist: Keona Ervin, University of Missouri
Keona K. Ervin is Associate Professor of History and an Affiliate Faculty of Black Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, and Peace Studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia. A Center for Missouri Studies Faculty Fellow at the State Historical Society of Missouri, Ervin is the author of the award-winning history, Gateway to Equality: Black Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice in St. Louis (University Press of Kentucky). She has published peer-reviewed articles, reviews, and essays in International Labor and Working-Class History, Journal of Civil and Human Rights, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, New Labor Forum, Los Angeles Review of Books, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Journal of Southern History, and Journal of American Ethnic History.

Commentator: Anne Gray Fischer, University of Texas at Dallas
Anne Gray Fischer is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Social History and the Journal of American History, where her article won the Louis Pelzer Memorial Award. Her first book, a history of women, police power, and the making of modern cities from segregation to gentrification, is forthcoming from the University of North Carolina Press in the Justice, Power, and Politics series. Prior to joining the faculty at UTD, Fischer was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Indiana University and book review editor at the Journal of American History.

Panelist: Cheryl D. Hicks, University of Delaware
Cheryl D. Hicks is an associate professor of Africana Studies and History at the University of Delaware. Her research addresses the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and the law. Hicks is the author of Talk With You Like a Woman: African American Women, Justice, and Reform in New York, 1890-1935 (2010), a book that illuminates the voices and viewpoints of black working-class women, especially southern migrants, who were the subjects of urban and penal reform in early-twentieth-century New York. The book won the 2011 Letitia Woods Brown Book Award from the Association of Black Women Historians and honorable mentions from the Organization of American Historians’ Darlene Clark Hine Award and the American Studies Association’s John Hope Franklin Prize. She has published in The Journal of African American History, The University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Journal of the History of Sexuality. Hicks also serves as an OAH Distinguished Lecturer. Hicks' current project focuses on the shifting meanings of sexuality, criminality, and black civil rights struggles in Gilded Age and Progressive-Era America.

Panelist: Jessica Rae Pliley, Texas State University
Jessica R. Pliley is an Associate Professor of the History of Women, Genders, and Sexualities at Texas State University and the Book Review Editor of the Journal of Women’s History. She holds a Ph.D. from the Ohio State University. Pliley is the author of Policing Sexuality: The Mann Act and the Making of the FBI (Harvard, 2014) and Global Anti-Vice Activism (Cambridge, 2016). She is the co-director of Yale University’s Working Group on Modern-Day Slavery and Trafficking at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Women’s History, the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and the Journal of the History of Sexuality. Her current research explores the long history of anti-trafficking movement from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century.

Panelist: Charlotte E. Rosen, Northwestern University
Charlotte Rosen is a fourth year doctoral student at Northwestern University who specializes in post-1960s United States political history and the history of the United States carceral state. Her dissertation, entitled “Carceral Crisis: The Challenge of Prison Overcrowding and the Rise of Mass Incarceration, 1970-2000,” examines the history of prisons, punishment, and prisoner resistance in late-twentieth century Pennsylvania, with a focus on the politics of prison overcrowding and Black protest to the emergent carceral regime in the 1980s and 1990s. She is particularly interested in critical prison studies, historical studies of the American state and federalism, political economy, and social movements. Charlotte also tutors weekly at the Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum security men's prison in Illinois, with the Northwestern Prison Education Program, where she is also on the Graduate Student Advisory Council.