01/18/16

Selected Articles/Essays

“Four Spirits,” by artist Elizabeth MacQueen, in Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park. Photograph by Julie Armstrong

“40 Years Ago, An Alabama Jury Proved White Supremacists Could Be Brought to Justice.” Narratively. 13 November 2017.

 

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Howard Cruse, Stuck Rubber Baby (2010). A graphic narrative that explores the intersections of black and gay civil rights.

 

Stuck Rubber Baby and the Intersections of Civil Rights Historical Memory.” Redrawing the Historical Past: History, Memory, and Multiethnic Graphic Narrative. Ed. Martha J. Cutter and Cathy J. Schlund-Vials. Univ. of Georgia Press, 2018.

 

“Civil Rights Words as Action: Then and Now.” Fifteen Eighty-Four. June 2015.

June 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the galley exhibition Works in Black and White, a key moment in the Black Arts Movement of the tumultuous 1960s. In this blog for Cambridge University Press, I explore the transformative power of language and the role of art and literature in the fight for civil rights.

 

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Jody Suzanne Ford (aka “Ms. Sid”), Birmingham’s first open trans woman

 

Transgender Warrior: The story of Birmingham’s Jody Suzanne Ford  August 2, 2012

Jody Suzanne Ford, one of Birmingham’s first transsexuals, was shot to death in 1977. Her story asks us to rethink current ideas of justice and civil rights.

 

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Detail from the Mary Turner lynching memorial. Vandals shot bullet holes into the historical marker. A subsequent visitor inserted a flower.

 

“Mary Turner’s Blues.” African American Review 44.1-2 (Spring-Summer 2011): 201-220.

What drove Ralph Kabnis into the cellar? Mary Turner, the basis for Jean Toomer’s Mame Lamkins, was lynched near Valdosta, Georgia in May 1918 during a week-long spree of mob violence that claimed at least eleven African American lives. Mob members went after Turner when they heard that she planned to press charges against them for lynching her husband Hayes. Responses to her story, by Toomer and poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, provide a disruption to the conventional lynching narrative that we might describe as “Mary Turner’s Blues.” 

 

“Mary Turner, Hidden Memory, and Narrative Possibility.” Gender and Lynching. Ed. Evelyn Simien. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011. 15-35.

This essay examines attempts to remember Turner by artist Freida High Tesfagiorgis, poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, and a local organization, the Mary Turner Project. These efforts demonstrate how Turner’s story leads artists, writers, and activists to new ways of thinking about gender, healing, and representation.

 

“The people . . . took exception to her remarks’: Meta Warrick Fuller, Angelina Weld Grimké, and the Lynching of Mary Turner.” Mississippi Quarterly. Special Issue on Lynching and American Culture. Eds. Amy Louise Wood and Susan V. Donaldson. 61 (Winter-Spring 2008): 113-142.

Artists and writers found that [the lynching of Mary] Turner disrupted the conventional lynching narrative and also undermined their own attempts to shape and make meaning from her tragic story. The mob murder of a pregnant woman and her near-term fetus lay beyond language, beyond sense.