Author and Columnist Samuel Freedman to Speak at Center for Missouri Studies

Author and Columbia University professor Samuel G. Freedman will deliver a presentation on how the crusade for civil rights won the White House and the election of President Truman at the 1948 Democratic Convention. The author will speak about his recent book, Into the Bright Sunshine: Young Hubert Humphrey and the Fight for Civil Rights, April 3, 2 p.m., at the State Historical Society of Missouri, 605 Elm Street, Columbia. The public is invited to this free program. Freedman’s talk is a collaboration with the State Historical Society and the Missouri School of Journalism.

Freedman writes that the struggles for a more equitable nation centered on the 1948 Democratic National Convention, when an incumbent president, a rising liberal mayor and a Black labor activist, acting sometimes as adversaries but ultimately as allies, successfully made civil rights the linchpin of Truman's upset victory and the focus of some of his most transformational policies. These efforts, often overlooked in accounts of the civil rights movement, laid the groundwork for the better-known breakthroughs in the 1950s and 1960s.

Despite angering Southern Democrats, Hubert Humphrey, then mayor of Minneapolis, gave an impassioned speech to accept a strong civil rights platform at the national convention in Philadelphia. Humphrey’s remarks came at a time when World War II had ended and soldiers returning from Europe saw the disparities between races in the United States. By the late 1940s, a civil rights movement began to gain momentum and make meaningful progress.

Freedman is a former columnist and staff writer for The New York Times and a professor at Columbia University. He is the author of 10 acclaimed books, four of which have been listed among the Times’ Notable Books of the Year. He’s been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Freedman has contributed to publications including The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Buzzfeed, Slate and others. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The New York Times calls Freedman's latest book, Into the Bright Sunshine, "Riveting...a superbly written tale of moral and political courage for present-day readers who find themselves in similarly dark times."