Co-Dean of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion, Associate Professor of African American History
Amy has conducted oral histories with welfare rights activists and small farmers in Mississippi, and has conducted workshops on the history of anti-poverty and welfare rights activism. Her essay, "Fighting for the Child Development Group of Mississippi: Poor People, Local Politics and the Complicated Legacy of Head Start," is part of a forthcoming collection entitled War on Poverty & Struggles for Racial and Economic Justice. She is currently working on a book entitled From Rural Rehabilitation to Welfare Rights: Rural Relief, Land Ownership and Welfare Rights Activism in Mississippi.
Amy also studies West African dance and performs occasionally with the New Haven-based companies Kouffin Kanecke Dance Company and the Fotoba Dance Troupe.
In 1968, while striking for union recognition and decent wages, Memphis Sanitation workers wore placards with the iconic words printed on them, "I am a Man." The simple phrase invokes the long struggle that African American workers fought for visibility, recognition and respect as citizens whose labor struggles constitute a critical component of the "Long Civil Rights Movement." By examining historical literature, films, interviews and historical newspapers, we will immerse ourselves in the lived experiences, work cultures and organizing strategies of African American workers. We will explore a range of sites, both rural and urban, as well as a range of labor categories, including workers in private households, steel, tobacco, automobile factories, and service industries. This range of labor struggles will provide a critical glimpse into what has been at stake for African American workers from the Reconstruction period through much of the late 20th century. The latter part of the course will examine the transition from manufacturing to service industries and consider how a historical lens can help make sense of the current activism of "essential workers." Key words: Africana studies, African American history, labor history, social movement history