USM Doctoral Student Olivia Moore to Deliver Baird Lecture Feb. 17
Wed, 02/12/2020 - 14:33pm | By: David Tisdale
Olivia Moore, a doctoral student in history and the 2019-2020 Baird Fellow in The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) History program, will present the annual Baird Fellow Lecture Monday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, room 101, on the Hattiesburg campus. Her presentation is titled “Divided and Directionless’: Conflicts within Hattiesburg’s Civil Rights Community.”
The Baird Fellowship, which awards $1,500 annually to a USM History graduate student to support travel for research purposes, is sponsored by USM’s Center for the Study of the Gulf South (CSGS).
“I’m honored to be this year’s Baird Fellow, and excited to contribute to the previous body of impressive scholarship on Southern history that has been produced at USM,” Moore said. “Receiving this fellowship provided me the opportunity to conduct research at the Wisconsin Historical Society, an archive that holds one of the richest collections on the civil rights movement.”
Drawing on her research conducted at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Moore’s talk
will explore factors that led to fractures between civil rights leaders and organizations
in Hattiesburg, following the murder of local activist Vernon Dahmer in 1966. “Divided
and Directionless” focuses on a series of conflicts within the activist community,
one of which erupted between members of the Forrest County chapter of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Delta Ministry.
While both organizations fought tirelessly to end segregation and racial discrimination, they often held conflicting views about the correct way to achieve this. In her presentation, Moore will offer insight into the conditions that led to the splintering of a local movement that was previously at the forefront of some of the most successful civil rights campaigns, including the 1964 Freedom Summer.
A native of Plymouth, England, Moore moved to the U. S. in 2014 to earn her master’s
degree in U.S History. Her interest in the civil rights movement was sparked when
she studied abroad at USM in 2012, and had the opportunity to interview local activists
about their experiences. Her dissertation, “Fractured Activism: Competing Visions
for the Civil Rights Movement in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1966-80,” considers how
the splintering of the civil rights movement played out on the local level in the
second half of the 1960s, and throughout the 1970s. While focusing on individuals
and aspects of the Hattiesburg movement previously neglected, her dissertation also
contributes to larger conversations about the role of armed resistance and the use
of weapons, the functioning and breakdown of social movements, and the rise of conservatism
in the U.S.
Throughout her time at USM, Moore has been interested in public history and working alongside members of the local community who are at the heart of her research. She has also worked closely with USM’s Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage (COHCH) on a number of different oral history projects, and her own interviews with local activists are an integral part of her dissertation research.
Moore said USM History faculty members Dr. Kevin Greene, who serves as director of the COCH, and Dr. Rebecca Tuuri, co-director of the CSGS, have been invaluable in assisting with her research. Both Dr. Greene and Dr. Tuuri are experts on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
“I have always been inspired by their (Drs. Greene and Tuuri) work with the local community, and this has certainly influenced my own approach to historical research,” Moore said. “The genuine investment they place in the education of their students is a testament to the university.”
The USM History program is housed in the College of Arts and Science’s School of Humanities. For information about the USM History program, visit https://www.usm.edu/undergraduate-programs/history.php; for information about the CSGS, https://www.usm.edu/gulf-south/index.php.