Publication Date: April 12, 2008
Series: Reflective History Series
This path-breaking examination of black colleges in Mississippi during the civil rights and black power movements offers a unique opportunity to understand how institutions are transformed into liberatory agents. Williamson examines how campus constituents negotiated and clashed over local, state, and national pressures against the backdrop of the highly contentious conflict between those determined to protect racial hierarchy and others equally determined to cripple white supremacy. She shows how students challenged the notion of the university as an ivory tower, aloof from community affairs, and documents how these colleges tried to resolve the tension between activism and academics. Through the words and deeds of actual participants, this profoundly moving account also provides firsthand knowledge of how students balanced their pursuit of higher education with campus and societal reform.
Joy Ann Williamson is associate professor of the history of American education at the University of Washington’s College of Education. She is the recipient of the Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship, campus-wide teaching awards, and the Association for the Study of Higher Education Council on Ethnic Participation’s Early Career Award.
“This book sheds new light on one of the foundational movements of the twentieth century and those who thrust it into history.”
—Aldon Morris, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University
"Joy Williamson has written an important book about a neglected subject. Her examination of student activism on black college campuses adds much to our understanding of the civil rights movement. Solidly researched, Radicalizing the Ebony Tower is also compelling reading."
—John Dittmer, Professor Emeritus of History, DePauw University