Streaming Live Online

How Do Oppressed People Build Community?

William Sturkey

How Do Oppressed People Build Community? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Photo by Grant Halverson

Moderated by David W. Blight, Yale Historian and Author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was a city of opportunity for African Americans. Leaving the surrounding cotton fields behind, they built churches, schools, clubs, and businesses; they were tied together by Friday night football games, dance halls, a newspaper, and charitable organizations. At the same time, Hattiesburg, like the rest of the South, was a place of systemic segregation and violent racism. How did Hattiesburg’s African American residents forge deep bonds amidst institutional oppression—and why did many of those bonds fail to survive after segregation was outlawed? What lessons can communities facing seemingly insurmountable inequality and discrimination draw from Hattiesburg today? University of North Carolina historian William Sturkey, winner of the 10th annual Zócalo Public Square Book Prize for Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White, visits Zócalo to discuss the community Hattiesburg built, how it helped birth and bolster the Civil Rights movement—and why those successes may ultimately have destroyed it. Professor Sturkey will be interviewed by historian David W. Blight, Sterling Professor of American History at Yale University.

The lecture and interview will stream live online; viewers will be able to submit questions via live chat. Discussion with captioning provided here. Please note that live chat participation is available only on the main video stream.

Zócalo Public Square is proud to award the Ninth Annual Zócalo Poetry Prize to Jai Hamid Bashir for her poem “Little Bones.” Read more about Bashir and her winning poem here: