Call for Papers:
“Student Activism, Southern Style: Organizing and Protest in the 1960s and 70s”

March 19-21, 2010
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina

Student protest is a signature element of the political turmoil of the Vietnam era. The spring of 1970 witnessed some of the largest student protests in U.S. history, many connected to the tragic events at Kent State University. Students at the University of South Carolina briefly occupied the Russell House student union, in a show of solidarity with Kent State and in protest of developments at home and abroad. Yet the histories of these students, and many others at campuses throughout the old south, tend to be neglected in the conventional narratives of student protest, civil rights activism, and broader accounts of the counter-culture.

While northern student protestors and activists are typically seen as agents of change, the south is typically seen as the subject of radical change, and as a field in which northern agents encountered resistance. Yet as the story of the Russell House illustrates, the south offered its own indigenous activism that was no less sincere, if less amplified, than its northern counterpart. “Student Activism, Southern Style” seeks to draw attention to and investigate this phenomenon in its own right.

The Departments of History at the University of South Carolina and Western Carolina University solicit paper proposals that address the topic of student activism at southern colleges and universities for a conference to be held March 19-21, 2010 at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. We seek a broad conversation about protest, organization, and political engagement across the political spectrum, including civil rights work, antiwar protest, the “New Right,” and other forms of political organization. We seek to examine the broad intersections among these political movements within the unique cultural and political environment that conditioned student activism in the region and throughout this critical period.

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For more information contact conference organizers at



“Student Activism, Southern Style: Organizing and Protest in the 1960s and 70s”
March 19-21, 2010
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC

(Program subject to change. RH=Russell House)

Friday, March 19  [ top of page ]
12:00-   : Registration

12:30-1:00: Organizers’ Welcome and Orientation (RH 315)

1:00-3:00: Session 1 Plenary: “Why We Became Active” (RH 315)

  • Brett Bursey
  • Vicki Eslinger
  • Bob Zellner
  • Chair/comment: Tom Gardner, Westfield State University

3:30-5:30: Session 2 Plenary: “Winter Soldiers and Southern Patriots: The VVAW in Southern Perspective” (RH 315)

  • Scott Camil
  • Peter Mahoney
  • Donald Donner
  • Chair: Nancy Miller Saunders

5:30-8:30: break for dinner, on your own

9:00-11:00: Film, Scarred Justice (Gambrell 153)
            Moderator: Jack Bass, University of South Carolina School of Law

Saturday, March 20  [ top of page ]
8:30-9:50: Session 3: Panels 1, 2
Panel 1: Localizing the National: Student Activism and Southern Place I (RH 203)

  • A. J. Angulo, Winthrop University, “Winthrop College in the Sixties: A History of Students, Activism, and Change”
  • Mona Vance, Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, “Student Activism at Mississippi University for Women”
  • Chair/comment: Joe Dunn, Converse College

Panel 2: Repressing Southern Student Activism (RH 205)

  • Gregg Michel, University of Texas at San Antonio, “Red Squads, Sovereignty
    Commissions, and COINTELPRO: Government Repression of White Southern Activists in the 1960s”
  • Craig Keeney, University of South Carolina, “The Disruption of the New Left, Southern Style: What the Alexander Charns Papers Reveal About the FBI’s Surveillance of Student Activists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill””
  • Chair/comment: Kent Germany, University of South Carolina

10:00-11:20: Session 4: Panels 3, 4
Panel 3: The New Left in the Old South (RH 203)

  • Wesley Phelps, Rice University, “New Left Activism and the War on Poverty in Houston, 1965-1969”
  • Carrie Hoefferle, Wingate University, “The Struggle for Movement on a Conservative Southern Campus: Student Activism at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the Long Sixties”
  • Chair/comment: Kent Germany, University of South Carolina

Panel 4: Before They Were College Students: High School Activism in the South (RH 205)

  • Maggi Morehouse, University of South Carolina, Aiken, “’Prepared to Fight in the Halls and the Classrooms’: Students Demanding First Amendment Rights in the Long Civil Rights Movement”
  • Candace Cunningham, University of South Carolina, “Black Teachers and the NAACP: A Case Study of the Mutually Beneficial Relationship between Black Teachers and the NAACP in Post-World War II South Carolina”
  • Chair/comment: Gael Graham, Western Carolina University

11:30-1:00: Session 5: Plenary lunch address (RH Ballroom)
Robert Cohen, New York University: “Prophetic Minority vs. Recalcitrant Majority:  Southern Student Politics in the 1960s”

1:00-2:20: Session 6: Panels 5, 6
Panel 5: Student Activism and Southern Sexualities (RH 203)

  • Beth Sherouse, University of South Carolina, “The Most Open, Adventurous Sex I’ve Ever Had: Freedom Summer and the Politics of Sexuality”
  • Kelly Morrow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “Sex in the South: Knowledge, Equality, and Sexual Liberation Activism at the University of North Carolina, 1969-1973”
  • Chair/comment: Marjorie Spruill, University of South Carolina

Panel 6: Beyond the Left: Conservative Southern Activism (RH 205)

  • Christopher Huff, University of Georgia, “Race, Sexuality and Conservative Politics at the University of Georgia, 1968-1975”
  • Barclay Key, Western Illinois University, “The Bible and Birdbaths: Student Activism at Christian Colleges in the South”
  • Chair/comment: Gregg Michel, University of Texas at San Antonio

2:30-3:50: Session 7: Panels 7, 8
Panel 7: Southern Student Activism Mediated (RH 203)

  • Karen Senaga, Mississippi State University, “’The College Press is the Only Press Telling the Truth about Race’: Campus Media and the Integration of the University of Mississippi”
  • Melanie Knight, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, “’Any Utterance . . . in Derogation or Subversive to the Authority, Peace, and Dignity of the State of South Carolina’ – The Gamecock Controversy of 1971”
  • Chair/comment: Steve O’Neill, Furman University

Panel 8: Sitting-In and Speaking Out on the Southern Campus (RH 205)

  • Jeffrey Turner, St. Catherine’s School, Richmond, “’We Take Our Places With Us’: The Sit-Ins and Campus Politics at Fisk and Vanderbilt Universities, 1960-1965”
  • Marcia Synnott, University of South Carolina, “The South Carolina Student Council on Human Relations, the Sit-In Movement and Progressive Reform in South Carolina, 1960-1966”
  • Chair/comment: Susan Youngblood Ashmore, Oxford College of Emory University

4:00-5:30: Session 8: Research Plenary: “Resistance and Protest, Past and Present: Student Activism in Southern Archives” (RH 203)

  • Douglas “Biff” Hollingsworth, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Kimberly Sims, Duke University
  • Chair: Paula Mangiafico, Duke University

5:30-7:45: Banquet dinner (RH Ballroom)

8:00-10:00: Session 9: Public Keynote program: “Coming Down and Standing Up: Situating the South in the History of Student Activism” (Gambrell 153)

  • Connie Curry
  • Tom Hayden
  • Chuck McDew
  • Martha Noonan
  • Moderator: Pat Sullivan, USC Department of History

Sunday, March 21  [ top of page ]
8:00-9:20: Session 10: Breakfast Plenary: “The Curricular Legacy of Southern Student Activism” (RH Ballroom)

  • Cleveland Sellers, President, Voorhees College
  • John Gardner, University of South Carolina
  • Chair: Tom Terrill, University of South Carolina

9:30-11:20: Session 11: Panels 9, 10
Panel 9: In Struggle in the South: A Great Speckled Bird Roundtable (RH 203)

  • Stephanie Coffin
  • Bob Goodman
  • Barbara Joye
  • Steve Wise
  • Chair/comment: Ian Fletcher, Georgia State University

Panel 10: Desegregation and Black Power on the Southern Campus (RH 205)

  • Jenna Steward, Louisiana Tech University, “The Role of Student Activism During the Desegregation of Louisiana Tech, 1965-1973”
  • Erica Whittington, University of Texas at Austin, “’Human Relations’ and the Freedom Movement: the NSA Southern Student Human Relations Seminars, 1958-1965”
  • Shirletta Kinchen, University of Memphis, “’The Students Across the Country are Moving in this Same Direction, So Why Not at LeMoyne-Owen?’: Student Activism and Black Power at LeMoyne-Owen College”
  • Chair/comment: Abel Bartley, Clemson University

11:30-12:50: Lunch (on your own)

1:00-2:50: Session 12: Panel 11, 12
Panel 11: Localizing the National: Student Activism and Southern Place II (RH 203)

  • Gary Sprayberry, Columbus State University, “’Eat Cornbread and Raise Hell’: The Student Antiwar Movement at the University of Alabama, 1969-1970”
  • Nicholas Meriwether, University of South Carolina, “A Joyful Alternative to War: The Counterculture as Local Culture.”
  • Chair/comment: Ginger Williams, Winthrop University

Panel 12: Southern Student Activism in Global Perspective (RH 205)

  • Anna Roberts, Rice University, “Roxanne Dunbar: Southern Activism, Global Revolution”
  • Sally Adams, Western Illinois University, “The Kent State Shootings & Sowetto Uprising: Their Role in the History of Student Activism”
  • Reenea Harrison, University of South Carolina, “Shaping a Society: The Power Wielded by Southern Student Activists in Two Major Socio-political Movements”
  • Chair/comment: Kerry Taylor, The Citadel

3:00-5:00: Session 13: Panel: To the Future: Southern Student Activism Today and Tomorrow (undergraduate panel) (RH 203)   [ top of page ]

  • Laura Ware, University of South Carolina
  • Denise Dunovant, University of South Carolina
  • TBA
  • Chair/comment: Dan Carter, University of South Carolina