This is a profoundly moving story of Black colleges in Mississippi during a watershed moment in their history. It is also the story of young Americans trying to balance their pursuit of higher education with the parallel struggle for civil rights. ""Radicalizing the Ebony Tower"" examines colleges against the backdrop of the black freedom struggle of the middle twentieth century, a highly contentious conflict between state agents determined to protect the racial hierarchy and activists equally determined to cripple white supremacy. Activists demanded that colleges play a central role in the Civil Rights Movement (a distinct challenge to the notion of the ivory tower) while state agents demanded that colleges distance themselves from the black freedom struggle and promised to mete out harsh penalties if they did not. Through the words and deeds of actual participants, this path-breaking study documents how activists ultimately transformed non-political institutions into libratory agents.
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.