The fight for minority rights against oppression ‘a continuous thread of American history’

Posted by ap507 at Oct 08, 2015 01:15 PM |
University of Leicester researchers to hold free ‘Remembering Rosa Parks’ event on Thursday 15 October

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 8 October 2015

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Issues of racism - from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s up until today - and the ongoing fight for minority rights has formed a ‘continual and continuous thread of American history’, according to researchers from the University of Leicester.

Examples of institutionalised racism, such as high incidences of white police officers using deadly force on unarmed, non-white citizens in the twenty-first century and Grand Juries failing to indict officers in the face of apparent overwhelming evidence of guilt, will be discussed and analysed at a free public ‘Remembering Rosa Parks’ event at the University of Leicester on Thursday 15 October.

This educational day at the University of Leicester, which is designed for schools, school teachers and interested members of the public, will focus on the courage, tactical acumen and resilience of activists from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Dr George Lewis, from the University of Leicester’s Centre for American Studies and School of History, who is organising the event, said: “In the United States and across the globe, people are struggling to understand why there appears to have been such a recent upsurge in violence perpetrated by majority white police forces against majority black victims.

“As many of the sessions on the Rosa Parks day will seek to explain, such events are the product of a much longer and denser history. White racism was not confined to the ‘classical phase’ of the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s, but both preceded and post-dated it. Fighting for minority rights in the face of such oppression was not confined to those years, either; rather, it has formed a continual and continuous thread of American history.”

Bringing together civil rights specialists from three leading Midlands universities, a veteran of the 1964 Freedom Summer Campaign, a representative of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute (USA), members of the British Association for American Studies, oral history specialists, and a professionally curated room of 1950s and 1960s civil rights artefacts, the day has been specifically tailored to allow pre- and post-16 school pupils the opportunity to learn about and experience the history of the US Civil Rights Movement.

As well as hearing from historians at the forefront of published research on the US Civil Rights Movement, participants will be offered the opportunity to record their own oral histories, to conduct an oral history interview with a veteran of the 1964 Freedom Summer, to interact with a room full of historical artefacts, to pose their own questions to subject specialists, and to record their responses to the day’s events in real time.

The event is part of Black History Month, which celebrates the heritage, history, arts, culture and accomplishments of people across the African and African Caribbean Diaspora, helping to understand the present through our past.

‘Remembering Rosa Parks: Understanding the US Civil Rights Movement’ takes place on Thursday 15 October between 10am-2pm in Queen’s Hall, Percy Gee Building, University of Leicester.

Attendance is free, but booking is essential. For further details, visit:


Notes to Editors:

For more information please contact Dr George Lewis on

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