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Radicalizing the Ebony Tower

Black Colleges and the Black Freedom Struggle in Mississippi

Joy Ann Williamson-Lott Barbara Finkelstein William Reese

224 pages
Teachers College Press
This path-breaking examination of black colleges in Mississippi during the civil rights and black power movements offers a unique opportunity to understand how institutions are transformed into liberatory agents. Williamson examines how campus constituents negotiated and clashed over local, state, and national pressures against the backdrop of the highly contentious conflict between those determined to protect racial hierarchy and others equally determined to cripple white supremacy. She shows how students challenged the notion of the university as an ivory tower, aloof from community affairs, and documents how these colleges tried to resolve the tension between activism and academics. Through the words and deeds of actual participants, this profoundly moving account also provides firsthand knowledge of how students balanced their pursuit of higher education with campus and societal reform.
Author Bio
Joy Ann Williamson is associate professor of the history of American education at the University of Washington’s College of Education. She is the recipient of the Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship, campus-wide teaching awards, and the Association for the Study of Higher Education Council on Ethnic Participation’s Early Career Award.