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Joy Williamson-Lott to Discuss Black Freedom Struggle’s Impact at UM

By Edwin B. Smith

University of Mississippi

Joy Williamson-Lott plans to discuss faculty and student activism at the University of Mississippi during the civil rights era at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 23 in the Robert C. Khayat Law Center, Weems Auditorium. Photo courtesy University of Washington

A respected expert on the civil rights movement will discuss how the movement came to the University of Mississippi, including the lesser-known fallout from James Meredith’s enrollment, Feb. 23 as part of the university’s commemoration of the 60th anniversary of integration.

Joy Ann Williamson-Lott, dean of the graduate school and professor of the history of American education at the University of Washington, will address “History as a Guide for the Future: University of Mississippi Activism Then and Now” at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert C. Khayat Law Center, Weems Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.

“I will use examples of faculty and student activism at UM during the Black freedom struggle to demonstrate the intense pressures Southern white institutions faced and how faculty and student activists pushed against the narrow boundaries drawn around academic freedom and freedom of speech,” Williamson-Lott said. “I’ll then talk about how historical research can be instructive to today’s campus activists.”

The speaker previously has visited the university to conduct research in the Department of Archives and Special Collections. She said she sees this visit as a great opportunity to meet and talk with Ole Miss faculty, staff and students and tour the campus.

“I am particularly excited to talk with students to hear their perspectives on the future of higher education and campus activism,” she said.

Amy Wells Dolan, associate dean and professor of higher education and coordinator of the event, said she is excited about Williamson-Lott’s return.

“Dr. Williamson-Lott is sure to provide a fresh and unique perspective during her discussion of the topic,” she said.

Williamson-Lott earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her book, “Jim Crow Campus: Higher Education and the Struggle for a New Southern Social Order” (Teachers College Press, 2018) won the Frederic W. Ness Book Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities in 2019 and was a finalist for the INDIES Book of the Year in Education sponsored by Forward Magazine in 2018.

Other books she has authored are “Radicalizing the Ebony Tower: Black Colleges and the Black Freedom Struggle in Mississippi” (Teachers College Press, 2008) and “Black Power on Campus: The University of Illinois, 1965-75” (University of Illinois Press, 2003). A prolific author, she also has published 11 refereed articles and chapters and seven invited articles and chapters. 

Williamson-Lott’s honors and awards include the 2010 University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2007 Mildred Garcia Award for Early Career Exemplary Scholarship, the 2005 St. Clair Drake Award for Outstanding Teaching from the Black Community Services Center at Stanford University, a Spencer Foundation Research Training Grant, and the 2003 Institute for Research on Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity Junior Faculty Development Program Award from Stanford University.


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