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Justice Rising: Robert Kennedy’s America in Black and White with Patricia Sullivan

May 20 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


In 1960, the year that Robert Kennedy ran his brother’s winning presidential campaign, the sit-in movement ignited mass protests that would move the demand for racial justice to the center of national attention. My talk will focus on how Kennedy’s public life converged with the racial reckoning of the 1960s. While the talk will briefly highlight his role in securing far-reaching civil rights legislation, the major focus will be on how RFK confronted the racial divisions and injustices beyond the reach of legal remedy, and how his response to the racial crisis of the late 1960s speaks to our current moment.


Patricia Sullivan has written books that explore the African American experience and the struggle for civil rights and racial justice in the United States during the twentieth century. They include Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement, the first history of the formative decades of America’s oldest civil rights organization; Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era; and Freedom Writer: Virginia Foster Durr, Letters from the Civil Rights Years. Her most recent book, Justice Rising: Robert Kennedy’s America in Black and White, places Robert Kennedys public life at the center of the wide-ranging racial reckoning of the 1960s.

Sullivan is currently the William Arthur Fairey II Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. She has taught at the University of Virginia and Harvard University. For nearly 20 years, she and Waldo Martin Jr. co-directed a series of NEH Summer Institutes sponsored by Harvard University on teaching the history of Civil Rights and Black Freedom Struggles since the Reconstruction era.


May 20
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Athenaeum of Philadelphia