“Turning Freedom Dreams into Reality: Black Activism in the Georgia Low Country”
Dr. Dorsey will discuss how Black men and women of the Georgia low country successfully met the challenge of beginning life as freed people in the wake of the American Civil War. In analyzing their actions, the story of first freedom explores the true meaning of liberty as understood by the newly emancipated. The black population of coastal Georgia was possessed of clear-eyed goal – they sought to reverse the order of their enslaved lives. Their life choices: to fight to gain their freedom, to secure family, acquire property and to live in community, demonstrate their powerful commitment to be masters of their own lives and to control their destiny and that of their progeny.
Allison Dorsey, Ph.D., Professor of History at Swarthmore College, previously served on the faculty of Hamilton College and Oberlin College. Dr. Dorsey also served as a Research Fellow at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University. In 2006, she completed an NEH Summer Seminar on the Black Freedom Struggle at Harvard University. In addition to numerous invited lectures and presentations, Dr. Dorsey has also taught the history of Reconstruction-era black freedmen in two NEH Landmarks in American History Workshops sponsored by the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah and an NEH Summer Seminar organized by University of South Carolina Beaufort. Her academic interests include the history of African Americans, the 20th-century civil rights movement, African American film, and food history.
Dr. Dorsey is the author of “’We’ve Taken Old Gods and given them New Names’: The Spirit of Sankofa in Daughters of the Dust,” published in Writing History with Lightening: Cinematic Representations of Nineteenth Century America (Louisiana State University Press, 2019); “The great cry of our people is land! Black Settlement and Community Development on Ossabaw Island, Georgia, 1865-1900,” published in The Atlantic World and African American Life and Culture in the Georgia Lowcountry (University of Georgia Press, 2010); “Black History is American History: Teaching African American History in the 21st Century,” Journal of American History (2007); To Build Our Lives Together: Community Formation in Black Atlanta, 1875-1906 (University of Georgia Press, 2004.
Dr. Dorsey received her M.A. and her Ph.D. in American History from the University of California, Irvine. She and her husband of forty years, Brian Ward, make their home in Swarthmore.