September 2, 2014  

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Expert on Civil Rights Movement in Germany to Speak at Southern Miss

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Dr. Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson, deputy director of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., will present “‘We Shall Overcome’: The Impact of the African American Freedom Struggle on Race Relations and Social Protest in Germany” Thursday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. in Gonzales Auditorium.

An international historian who has researched and written about the American civil rights movement’s global impact will speak at The University of Southern Mississippi during Black History Month.

Dr. Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson, deputy director of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., will present “‘We Shall Overcome’: The Impact of the African American Freedom Struggle on Race Relations and Social Protest in Germany” Thursday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. in Gonzales Auditorium. The auditorium is located on the first floor of the Liberal Arts Building on the Hattiesburg campus. Admission is free.

The U.S. civil right movement and its leaders, particularly Martin Luther King, Jr., are widely known. But the story beyond the American experience is less known. Waldschmidt-Nelson’s lecture will concentrate on one of these “neglected aspects”: the civil rights movement’s transatlantic impact on the former West and East Germanys. Beginning with a short discussion of the German Empire’s colonial heritage, she will then focus on the significance of World War II and the interconnectedness of the African American freedom struggle and the question of social justice in Germany in the 1960s, concluding with a look at the life of black people in Germany today.

“Dr.Waldschmidt’s lecture will help us appreciate how the American civil rights movement, which we often think of as local history, actually transformed the world,” said Dr. Douglas Bristol, associate professor of history at Southern Miss and organizer of the event.

Waldschmidt-Nelson’s main research interests are African American Studies, Transatlantic Relations, Gender and American Religious History. Among her publications are From Protest to Politics: Schwarze Frauen in der Bürgerrechtsbewegung und im Kongress der Vereinigten Staaten (1998), Europe and America: Cultures in Translation (2006), Gegenspieler: Martin Luther King & Malcolm X (2000, 62010); Christian Science im Lande Luthers: Eine amerikanische Religionsgemeinschaft in Deutschland, 1894-2009 (2009), and Dreams and Nightmares: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and the Struggle for Black Equality in America (2012).

She taught American History at the University of Munich from 1994 to 2011, has been a visiting scholar and guest lecturer at numerous European and American Universities and is a member of the advisory board of the German Association of American Studies.

This event is supported by the Center for the Study of the Gulf South, housed in the Department of History, and the dean’s office of the College of Arts and Letters. A question and discussion period will follow Waldschmidt-Nelson’s lecture, with a reception to be held after the program in the Liberal Arts Building’s first floor lobby. For more information on this event, contact Dr. Bristol at douglas.bristol@usm.edu.