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 formative decades of the nation'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."
My current projects include a book titled Robert Kennedy’s America in Black and White, which will be published by Harvard University Press, late fall 2018. Focusing on the development of Robert Kennedy’s public leadership in relationship to the civil rights movement and the racial turmoil of the 1960s, the book recovers a largely unexamined yet critical dimension of Kennedy’s biography, while providing a fresh lens on one of the most transformative periods in America’s racial history – one marked by the culminating years of the civil rights movement, the explosion of racial tensions in cities across America, and the struggles around race, crime and poverty that would shape America’s “post-civil rights” racial order.