‘Maps Behind the Movement: African-American Freedom Struggles’ topic of Feb. 15 talk

February 11, 2019 | Events, UToday
By Bailey Sparks

Whether spectacular moments in formal protest or daily acts of defiance, civil rights struggles often involve the strategic planning and mobilization of resources, bodies and information.

Dr. Derek H. Alderman, professor of geography at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, examines the African-American freedom struggle as geographical work.


He will discuss “The Maps Behind the Movement: African-American Freedom Struggles as Geographic Work” Friday, Feb. 15, at 2:30 p.m. in Snyder Memorial Building Room 2110.

According to Alderman, as part of the fight for equality, African Americans have long participated in (counter) mapping; collecting and analyzing social and geographical data and intelligence; spatial planning; and various forms of place (re)making.

“I offer a series of vignettes that demonstrate the different kinds of geographical work and various kinds of mapping that African Americans have engaged in as they have sought to take control of their own lives and spaces in the face of rampant racism,” Alderman said.

These vignettes cross a range of historical periods, case studies and political contexts — from efforts to escape slavery to the navigation of Jim Crow segregation to famous and less known campaigns of the civil rights movement and to more contemporary place-claiming struggles.

Alderman calls for the help of professional geographers and other scholars, asking that they consider ways to make civil rights more central to geographic research, teaching and outreach while also recognizing the role that space and place played in the African-American freedom struggle.

His presentation is sponsored by the American Association of Geographers/Gamma Theta Upsilon Visiting Geographical Scientist Program.

For more information about this free event that is part of the 2019 Spring UT Geography and Planning Colloquium Series and the University’s celebration of Black History Month, contact Dr. Patrick Lawrence, UT professor and chair of geography and planning, at patrick.lawrence@utoledo.edu.

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