Black Women and Political Leadership in the US

Hosted by Department of International History and LSE Phelan US Centre

Online Public Event, United Kingdom


Dr Anastasia Curwood

Dr Anastasia Curwood

Professor Nadia Brown

Professor Nadia Brown


Dr Imaobong Umoren

Dr Imaobong Umoren

First Seminar

This joint Department of International History and LSE Phelen US Centre talk explored Black Women’s Political leadership in the past and present in the US. Associate Professor Anastasia Curwood’s talk drew on her upcoming book, Aim High: Shirley Chisholm and Black Feminist Power Politics, to discuss the timeless threads connecting US Black women’s political concerns across time. She provided historical context for Black women’s activism and explained how Chisholm developed a Black feminist power framework within national politics.

Professor Nadia E. Brown’s talk drew on her recently published book Sister Style: The Politics of Appearance for Black Women Political Elites and discussed the aesthetics of Black women's politics with a focus on contemporary political figures such as Kamala Harris. Black women political elites in the US manage their appearance and politics in response to White supremacy, sexism, and racism. Professor Brown argued that aesthetics and ideas are interwoven and have long roots which build on the legacies of Shirley Chisholm.

More about this event

The Department of International History (@lsehistory) teaches and conducts research on the international history of Britain, Europe and the world from the early modern era up to the present day.

 The LSE Phelan United States Centre is a hub for global expertise, analysis and commentary on America. Our mission is to promote policy-relevant and internationally-oriented scholarship to meet the growing demand for fresh analysis and critical debate on the United States.

Sponsored by the Department's The Americas in World History research cluster.

Meet our speakers and chair

Anastasia Curwood (@CurwoodA) is Associate Professor of History and Director of African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. She earned an AB from Bryn Mawr College and an MA and PhD, both in History, from Princeton University. Using an interdisciplinary lens across history, African-American Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies, she writes about twentieth-century African-American women, gender, and sexuality, and African-American intellectuals, politics and culture. Her first book, Stormy Weather: Middle-Class African American Marriages Between the Two World Wars (North Carolina, 2010) centered on the cultural and social contests over African-Americans' marriages in the early twentieth century. Curwood is currently completing Aim High: Shirley Chisholm and Black Feminist Power Politics. The work combines political science and social movement history to explain the origins and significance of Chisholm’s historic firsts in the United States Congress and in the 1972 race for the United States Presidency. The work rewrites the histories of both the black freedom struggle and late twentieth-century feminism by blending the study of protest with a focus on electoral politics. Curwood is the recipient of several grants and honors, including a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, a Ford Postdoctoral Fellowship, and a Research Fellowship at the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University.

Nadia E. Brown (@BrownPhDGirl) is a Professor of Government, chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and affiliate in the African American Studies program at Georgetown University. She specializes in Black women’s politics and holds a graduate certificate in Women's and Gender Studies. Brown's research interests lie broadly in identity politics, legislative studies, and Black women's studies. While trained as a political scientist, her scholarship on intersectionality seeks to push beyond disciplinary constraints to think more holistically about the politics of identity. She is the author or editor of several award winning books – including Sisters in the Statehouse: Black Women and Legislative Decision Making (Oxford University Press); Sister Style: The Politics of Appearance for Black Women Political Elites (with Danielle Lemi); Distinct Identities: Minority Women in U.S. Politics (with Sarah Allen Gershon, Routledge Press); The Politics of Protest: Readings on the Black Lives Matter Movement (with Ray Block, Jr. and Christopher Stout, Routledge Press); Approaching Democracy: American Government in Times of Challenge (with Larry Berman, Bruce Allen Murphy and Sarah Allen Gershon, Routledge Press). Brown is the lead editor of Politics, Groups and Identities. She is part of the #MeTooPoliSci Collective where she spearheads efforts to stop sexual harassment in the discipline. Along with co-PIs Rebecca Gill (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) Stella Rouse (University of Maryland, College Park), Elizabeth Sharrow (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), she is the recipient of a million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation for their project titled "#MeTooPoliSci Leveraging A Professional Association to Address Sexual Harassment in Political Science." Lastly, Brown is an editor with The Monkey Cage, a political science blog in the Washington Post.

Dr Imaobong Umoren (@ImaobongUmoren3) is Associate Professor in the Department of International History at LSE. Her research interests, publications, and teaching focus on histories of race, gender, activism and political thought in the Caribbean, Britain and the US focusing on the modern and contemporary period. Umoren's first book Race Women Internationalists: Activist-Intellectuals and Global Freedom Struggles (University of California Press) won the 2019 Women’s History Network Book Prize.

Seminar Series: Race, Gender and Politics in the US

This interdisciplinary seminar series hosted by the LSE's Phelan US Centre and the Department of International History will unite historians and political scientists to share current research on the theme of "Race, Gender and Politics in the US in historical and contemporary perspective." Given the current rise in White supremacy, sexism, police brutality, and the global Black Lives Matter movement, scholars will reflect on the longer arch of these issues historically and how their complexity shapes our present moment.

The second seminar, The Slow Death of Sagon Penn: Police Violence in Reagan-era San Diego, on 9 November 2021, featuring Dr. Adriane Lentz-Smith (Duke University), will look at police racism and violence in early 1980s San Diego through the case of Sagon Penn.

The third seminar on 9 December 2021, Jim Crow 2.0: Voter Suppression in the 21st Century, given by Professor Carol Anderson (Emory University), will look at the suppression of voting rights in the 21st century and its intersection with the politics of race.

More information about the seminar series, Race, Gender and Politics in the US.

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