McPherson-Mitchell Lecture in Southern History focuses on Freedom Riders

Posted: Monday, 09 January 2012

TROY – Troy University's McPherson-Mitchell Lecture in Southern History will this year feature a presentation on the Freedom Riders on Jan 26.

Dr. Raymond O. Arsenault, the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History at the University of South Florida, will present "Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice" at 5 p.m. in Claudia Crosby Theater.

"As America begins to look back on 50 years of social and racial activism, Professor Arsenault, one of the nation's leading historians of the 1960's civil rights movements, brings an additional layer of relevance to the Mitchell-McPherson series," said Dr. David Carlson, an assistant professor of history at TROY who is helping organize the lecture.

"His lecture on the Freedom Rides not only addresses national and Southern history, it touches deeply the history of the Troy-Montgomery area as many of the key events and figures of the Freedom Rides took place or were rooted in this region," he said.

Attending the lecture will also be Freedom Rider Margaret Burr Leonard, who now lives in Tallahassee, Fla. In June 1961, she was arrested in Jackson, Miss. and spent two weeks imprisoned in Mississippi's Parchman Penitentiary.

A specialist in the political, social and environmental history of the South, Arsenault has also taught at the University of Minnesota, Brandeis University and at the Universite d'Angers, in France, where he was a Fulbright Lecturer in 1984-1985. He earned an undergraduate degree from Princeton University and completed a doctorate in 1981 at Brandeis University.

He is the author of two prize-winning books "The Wild Ass of the Ozarks: Jeff Davis and the Social Bases of Southern Politics" (1984, pbk 1988) and "St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream, 1888-1950" (1988, pbk. 1998), and of "The End of the Long Hot Summer: The Air Conditioner and Southern Culture," "Journal of Southern History" (1984), which won the Southern Historical Association's Green-Ramsdell Prize. An edited volume, "Crucible of Liberty: 200 Years of the Bill of Rights," was published during the 1991 Bicentennial of the Bill of Rights. His recent publications include "Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice" (Oxford University Press, 2006), "Paradise Lost?" (2005) an anthology (co-edited with Jack Davis) on the environmental history of Florida, "The Changing South of Gene Patterson: Journalism and Civil Rights, 1960-1968" (2002), co-edited with Roy Peter Clark, and "The Public Storm: Hurricanes and the State in Twentieth-Century America," in Wendy Gamber, et al. eds., "American Public Life and the Historical Imagination" (2003). He is currently working on "Landmarks of American Sports," co-edited with Randall Miller.

Hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences through the History Department and co-sponsored by honor society Phi Alpha Theta, the lecture series is an annual event that honors two retired members of the department: Dr. Milton McPherson, who taught from 1968 to 1989, and Dr. Norma Taylor Mitchell, who taught from 1979 to 1999. The series invites leading historians of the South and the Southern experience.

The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Raymond O. Arsenault

Lawrence Reed