January 12, 2013
Francoise Hamlin: “Crossroads At Clarksdale”
On February 18, 2013, Francoise N. Hamlin, the Hans Rothfels Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies at Brown University, will be speaking about her recently published book, Crossroads At Clarksdale: The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta after World War II. 7:00pm at the Avery Research Center, College of Charleston.
Weaving national narratives from stories of the daily lives and familiar places of local residents, Françoise Hamlin chronicles the slow struggle for black freedom through the history of Clarksdale, Mississippi. Hamlin paints a full picture of the town over fifty years, recognizing the accomplishments of its diverse African American community and strong NAACP branch, and examining the extreme brutality of entrenched power there. The Clarksdale story defies triumphant narratives of dramatic change, and presents instead a layered, contentious, untidy, and often disappointingly unresolved civil rights movement.
Following the black freedom struggle in Clarksdale from World War II through the first decade of the twenty-first century allows Hamlin to tell multiple, interwoven stories about the town’s people, their choices, and the extent of political change. She shows how members of civil rights organizations–especially local leaders Vera Pigee and Aaron Henry–worked to challenge Jim Crow through fights against inequality, police brutality, segregation, and, later, economic injustice. With Clarksdale still at a crossroads today, Hamlin explores how to evaluate success when poverty and inequality persist.