African American Experience in Missouri Lecture Series

Explore Missouri's past and prepare for the future through the African American Experience in Missouri lecture series. A collaboration of the State Historical Society of Missouri's Center for Missouri Studies and the University of Missouri Division of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, it is designed to offer the community opportunities to reach a new understanding of present-day Missouri by learning about the history of African Americans within the state.

Keona K. Ervin, history professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and SHSMO executive director Gary Kremer, both Center for Missouri Studies fellows known for research on African American history, are curating the series to ensure that top scholars in the field are a part of the continuing exploration of the lives of African Americans in Missouri's past.

In 2019-2020, the series is sponsored by The State Historical Society of Missouri’s Center for Missouri Studies and the University of Missouri Division of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity.

Past Events

'Drenched With Blood, Presenting A Frightful Appearance': Race, Rage, and State Power in Missouri's Historic Past

Sowande’ Mustakeem, assistant professor of African and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis discusses the role of race and gender in a late nineteenth-century murder case. Mustakeem's presentation covers the death of Effie Jackson, a Kansas City woman killed by a rival for the affections of a man; Jackson’s case will serve as a basis to explore laws and institutions designed to police working-class African Americans.

Black History and 'Black Lives' since Ferguson: Contemporary Meanings of the 1960s Freedom Struggle in St. Louis, Missouri

Clarence Lang shares how current events in Black America, such as the recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri that propelled “Black Lives Matter” to national and international attention, continuously change the meanings of past struggles for black freedom. Lang also showcases how St. Louis is representative of the broader US patterns of race relations, racial oppression, and resistance and share ways that contemporary historical framing can inform (or misinform) present-day, post-1960s movements for black lives.

Black Military Service in Civil War Missouri

St. Louis native Miller W. Boyd III shares insights from his groundbreaking research into the African American experience in Missouri during the Civil War. In unraveling the traditional motives for service—fighting to destroy slavery in America, securing black citizenship, and preserving the Union—Boyd shows that personal freedom and a chance to financially provide for families were often stronger motivations to enlist.

"No Rights Which the White Man Was Bound to Respect": Racial Capitalism and Empire in the Age of Dred Scott

Walter Johnson, a professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, uses Dred Scott's personal struggle for freedom and the controversial outcome of his US Supreme Court case as a lens to help illuminate the central role of St. Louis in the imperialist and racial capitalist history of the United States.

#SayHerName: Black Women and State Violence in the Case of Missouri v. Celia, A Slave

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau professor at the University of Michigan, shares the deeply powerful and unfortunately very tragic story of Celia, who was purchased by a local man in Callaway County and suffered tremendously for years before she eventually stood up for her basic human right to decide her own fate.

Contesting Slavery: Enslaved Missourians' Enduring Struggle for Self Determination

Diane Mutti Burke, author of On Slavery’s Border: Missouri’s Small-Slaveholding Households, examines the lives of African-Americans who were enslaved in Mid-Missouri. The small-scale system of slavery practiced in the region created living and working conditions that compromised the strength of enslaved families and communities and increased the possibilities for physical and psychological abuse, yet, at the same time, enhanced opportunities to resist.