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Feb. 15 Conference Commemorates Community Organizing in the Modern Civil Rights Movement

Feb. 15 Conference Commemorates Community Organizing in the Modern Civil Rights Movement

Mississippi 1963: Martha Prescod, Mike Miller, and Robert Parris Moses doing voter registration work in the countryside. Moses is one of the February 2014 speakers at the MTW lecture series.

The determined grassroots efforts of individuals who drove the struggle for Civil Rights during the 1960s will be explored at the 2014 Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Tending the Light: Community Organizing and the Modern Civil Rights Movement, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, at the Paul Robeson Campus Center, 350 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., on Rutgers University’s Newark Campus, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Series' 34th installment will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by illuminating the history of community organizing in the black freedom struggle, the immense amount of work such struggle entails, and the heroic individuals who take it on. The daylong conference features four distinguished speakers: Bob Moses, civil rights movement veteran and president and founder of The Algebra Project; Diane Nash, civil rights movement veteran; Charles Payne, the Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago; and Barbara Ransby, Professor of History and African-American Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago. MTW speakers will reflect on the history of community organizing, from the perspective of their personal experience and of their scholarship on the topic, as well as the legacy and lessons of such grassroots work for contemporary politics.

Immediately following the MTW conference, the audience is invited to attend a free reception at the Newark Museum, 49 Washington St., which also features live musical ent ertainment by The Bradford Hayes Trio.  Both the MTW conference and museum reception are free and open to the public.

The lecture series was co-founded in 1981 by Rutgers Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of History Clement Price, and the late Giles R. Wright, New Jersey Historical Commission. Over the past 33 years, the conference has drawn thousands of people to the Rutgers-Newark campus and has attracted some of the nation’s foremost scholars and humanists who are experts in the field of African and African American history and culture. It has become one of the nation's leading scholarly programs specifically devoted to enhancing the historical literacy of an intercultural community.

The annual conference was named for East Orange native Dr. Marion Thompson Wright (left), a pioneer in African American historiography and race relations in New Jersey, who was the first professionally trained woman historian in the United States.

The Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series is sponsored by the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience; the Federated Department of History, Rutgers-Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology; and the New Jersey Historical Commission/Department of State. The 2014 conference receives additional support from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the Rutgers Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes, and the Prudential Foundation.

For additional information about the program, visit the Institute’s website at: http://ethnicity.rutgers.edu, or contact the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience, 973/353-3891.