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Award-winning author to speak about 'The Strange Careers of the Jim Crow North' at USM's 2nd annual W. E. B. Du Bois lecture event Nov. 6

Brian Purnell

The University of Southern Maine will host the 2nd annual W. E. B. Du Bois Lecture on race and democracy on Monday, Nov. 6.

The annual lecture provides a platform for innovative, solution-oriented speakers to present major intellectual and new idea-based statements on the intersection of race and participatory democracy.

This year’s keynote address, “The Strange Careers of the Jim Crow North: Race and Participatory Democracy North of the Mason Dixon Line,” will be given by Brian Purnell, the Geoffrey Canada associate professor of Africana Studies and History at Bowdoin College.

Purnell is the author of “Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn,” published by the University Press of Kentucky and winner of the New York Historical Association’s Dixon Ryan Fox Manuscript Prize.

USM faculty say the event will contextualize racism and discrimination as it happens on a national scale. It is a misconception, said Leroy Rowe, assistant professor of African American history and politics, that racism is isolated to the southern United States.

“The social construction of race and how it impacts individuals and communities across America is something that is not only relevant today, but it also entails a larger narrative about the larger democratic experience. We still struggle with our understanding of race and discrimination as something that is a national phenomenon,” Rowe said. “I think Brian’s lecture is going to put into context about how African Americans not only were subjected to discrimination, but also how they negotiated the constraints placed on their liberties.”

The Annual W. E. B. Du Bois Lecture on Race and Democracy was developed, in part, to help students understand the ways that the politics of race work and how institutional racism impacts individuals and communities.

To further student understanding, the USM Department of History and Political Science has developed an interdisciplinary minor in Race and Ethnic Studies, to which students have reacted with much enthusiasm. The 18-credit minor provides students with a wide array of courses drawn from various programs across the University.

This year’s lecture will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 6 in Hannaford Lecture Hall within the Abromson Community Education Center on USM’s Portland Campus. This event is held as part of USM’s Gloria S. Duclos Convocation, a year-long series of events on the theme of “Race and Participatory Democracy.” It is free and open to the public.

For more information or to register, please visit the USM Convocation website.