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Black History Month Special Guest Lecture, “Oscar S. DePriest: A Black Congressman in Jim Crow America”
Presented by Dr. Calvin White Jr., of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas, this event will be held virtually from 2-3:30 p.m. Friday, February 26. To register, please send your name and the email address to which you would like the Zoom link sent to email@example.com by noon on February 26.
Prior to his current position, White served as chair of the Department of History and director of the African and African American Studies Program. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi and his research focuses on the American South with an emphasis on the African American experience. White is currently working on his second book, a biography on Oscar S. De Priest, the first African American to Congress after Reconstruction, which is currently under contract with Palgrave MacMillan.
White is the recipient of several national fellowships and has served as a Gilder-Lehrman fellow at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York. Recognized by the University of Arkansas administration for his leadership, he was named a Fellow of the Southeastern Conference Academic Leadership Development Program and a Provost Lecturer.
Oscar S. DePriest
Known as the “Negroes’ Congressman,” Oscar Stanton DePriest, during his three terms in Congress, became a national political figure. Representing the people of the 1st Congressional District of Illinois, DePriest engaged in heated debates with President Herbert Hoover, fought furiously over the issues of segregation in the congressional restaurant, and argued for congressional appropriations for black institutions of higher learning. Understanding the importance of his position, DePriest used his congressional seat to raise money for the NAACP, worked with fellow Chicagoan and anti-lynching reformer Ida B. Wells, and forged an alliance with Mary Church Terrell, the nation’s leading African American female reformer. White’s talk will show that DePriest bridged 19th century political activism to that of the 20th century. More important, White argues that DePriest’s political career offers a first-person account of America’s great political realignment when blacks left the Republican Party en masse for the ranks of the Democratic Party. White will show that no true understanding of black political life, and the issues surrounding it, can be understood without a thorough examination of the first black national political figure from the state of Illinois.