The African-American Experience in Missouri Lecture Series

The African-American Experience in Missouri Lecture Series logo

Learn about Missouri's past and present while we prepare for the future through the African American Experience in Missouri lecture series. This series offers the Mizzou and Columbia community opportunities to gain a new understanding of present-day Missouri by learning about the history of African Americans within the state. This series is a collaboration between the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity and the State Historical Society of Missouri's Center for Missouri Studies

This series is curated by Keona K. Ervin, history professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and SHSMO executive director Gary Kremer to ensure that top scholars are a part of this exploration and program. Both Ervin and Kremer are known for their research on African American history.

With questions about the series or to request accommodations call The State Historical Society of Missouri at 573-882-7083 or email

Upcoming Lectures

Sept. 15: The Legacy of Slavery and Freedom in St. Louis Before the Civil War

Lea VanderVelde, Josephine Witte Professor of Law, University of Iowa College of Law
6:30 p.m., Stoter Lounge, Memorial Union.

The lecture series fall lineup kicks off with Lea VanderVelde, who will discuss her most recent book, Redemption Songs: Suing for Freedom before Dred Scott, a groundbreaking study of more than 300 freedom suits in St. Louis. Through the careful evaluation of 12 cases, the book offers insights into the practice of slavery and the lives of those enslaved in Missouri. VanderVelde, who previously taught at Yale Law School, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Vienna, is the principal investigator for the Law of Antebellum Frontier project at the Stanford Spatial History Lab.

Oct. 20: A lecture with Professor Miller Boyd

Miller Boyd, African American Studies Program, University of Mississippi
6:30 p.m., Missouri Theatre, Columbia.

Nov. 9: Crossing the Red Sea: Saint Louis and the Exodus of 1879

Bryan Jack, assistant professor, Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville
Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia.

Past Lectures

Inaugural Lecture: Contesting Slavery: Enslaved Missourians' Enduring Struggle for Self Determinationn

By Diane Mutti Burke, associate professor of history, University of Missouri, Kansas City on February 3, 2016

#SayHerName: Black Women and State Violence in the Case of Missouri v. Celia, A Slave
By Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of History, University of Michigan Law School on March 23, 2016

"No Rights Which the White Man Was Bound to Respect": Racial Capitalism and Empire in the Age of Dred Scott
By Walter Johnson, professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University on April 21, 2016