Specializes in modern United States history, with an emphasis on African American history, race relations, and the history of the Civil Rights Movement.
Professor Sullivan teaches courses in twentieth century U.S. history. Areas of interest include African American history; the South since the Civil War; race, reform and politics in the United States; and the history of the Civil Rights Movement. She teaches graduate courses on modern American history, African American history and on civil rights struggles in the twentieth century. Her most recent book, Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement, is the first history of the foundational decades of the America's oldest civil rights organization. Henry Louis Gates Jr. described the book as "a major contribution to our understanding of the political and cultural history of African Americans-indeed of America itself." Other books include: Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era; Freedom Writer: Virginia Foster Durr, Letters from the Civil Rights Years; New Directions in Civil Rights Studies, co-edited with Armstead L. Robinson, and Civil Rights in the United States, a 2-volume encyclopedia, coedited with Waldo E. Martin Jr. She and Waldo Martin are editors of the John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture, published by the University of North Carolina Press. Since 1997, Professor Sullivan has codirected an NEH Summer Institute at Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute with Waldo Martin on "Teaching the History of the Civil Rights Movement."
I am currently working on a book on Robert Kennedy, Civil Rights and the Racial Crisis of the 1960s. As the first major historical exploration in more than a decade to address Robert Kennedy's life and political evolution, it will tell the story of how Kennedy was challenged and changed by the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Robert Kennedy's response to the demands of the movement, his exposure to racial discrimination and urban poverty, and his evolving awareness of race as a formative force in America affected his public, private and political life in ways that have to yet be fully explored. Viewing RFK's life and legacy through the lens of the Civil Rights Movement and the broader struggle for racial justice during the 1950s and 1960s, the book will reveal how one of America's most intriguing political figures was shaped by and in turn influenced his country's most enduring struggle.
Professor Sullivan's c.v. is located here.