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CCH Seminar Series 2023 – Wed 29th March, 11am – Clare Corbould

11am, 29th March 2023
Burwood: C2.05.01
Waurn Ponds: IC2.108
Zoom link here.

Growing Up in the Black Belt Revisited: Race and Social Science in Mid-Twentieth Century United States”

In the late 1930s, the American Youth Commission, part of the American Council on Education, sought to understand the effects of unprecedented unemployment rates on young Americans. One of the funded projects examined the effects of racism on “the personality of Negro youth.” The sociologist who oversaw this substantial research project, Charles S. Johnson of Fisk University in Nashville, later published Growing Up in the Black Belt, which became a minor classic. Assumptions in and findings of this project helped fuel the successful Supreme Court challenge in 1954 that ended legal segregation, Brown v. Board of Education. In this paper, I consider the publications that arose from the project alongside unpublished material. I examine the ways researchers and research subjects negotiated the project funders’ racist expectations—and the extent to which their efforts succeeded.

Clare Corbould is an Associate Professor of history at Deakin University. Her expertise is in United States history with an emphasis on race, racism, and African American history. She is author of the award-winning Becoming African Americans: Black Public Life in Harlem (Harvard, 2009) and co-editor of Remembering the Revolution: Memory, History and Nation Making from Independence to the Civil War (Massachusetts, 2013). Clare appears regularly in broadcast media, including ABC radio and television. She contributes to press media including the Conversation, the Guardian, and the Washington Post.