Lycoming College hosts educator and scholar-activist Rhonda Y. Williams

Lycoming College hosts educator and scholar-activist Rhonda Y. Williams

Rhonda Y. Williams

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Lycoming College will host Rhonda Y. Williams, Ph.D., as one of several guest speakers in the “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” initiative series. Williams’s presentation, “Rethinking Black Power and Black Politics,” will be held on Thursday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m., in the Mary Lindsay Welch Honors Hall at the corner of Fourth and Basin streets in Williamsport. This event is free and open to the public.

In her presentation, Williams will explore some of the roots, routes and expressions that have comprised the vigorous search for Black Power politics in the 20th century, both before and after the familiar popularization of the term in 1966, and discuss why it's still relevant today. As in her book, “Concrete Demands,” Williams will highlight the role of ordinary people as well as more famous historical actors, and demonstrate that women activists were central to Black Power by looking at the struggle from the grassroots level.

Williams is currently an associate professor of history at the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. During her time at Case Western Reserve University, she founded the Social Justice Institute and the Postdoctoral Fellowship in African American Studies. She was also awarded the inaugural Inclusion and Diversity Achievement Award. Williams is the author of several scholarly articles and two books, “Concrete Demands: The Search for Black Power in the 20th Century” and the award-winning “The Politics of Public Housing: Black Women’s Struggles against Urban Inequality.” She has delivered community presentations to the Congressional Emerson Hunger Fellows on the history of institutional racism and given numerous lectures, including lectures at the Smithsonian Institution and the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

Williams received her doctorate in history from the University of Pennsylvania and her undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Maryland College Park, where she became that university's first black salutatorian in its then 187-year history.

Williams’s presentation is a part of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) Distinguished Lectureship Program, which promotes excellence in the scholarship, teaching, and presentation of American history. It is also a part of the “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” initiative, which is made possible through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The grant was awarded to the Snowden Library at Lycoming College.

The Created Equal initiative is designed to mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. The program is centered around four powerful documentary films: “The Abolitionists,” “Slavery by Another Name,” “Freedom Riders” and “The Loving Story.” These films trace the 150-year effort to achieve equal rights for all. For more information on the Created Equal initiative, and a list of events, please visit the Created Equal Web page.

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