The Gustavian Weekly

Kevin Mumford to give lecture on black gay history

By Annika Ferber Staff Writer | October 1, 2010 | News

Kevin Mumford will give a guest lecture at Gustavus on October 11th at 7:00 p.m. in SSC room 101. Submitted.

On October 11 at 7:00 p.m., Historian and Professor of History at the University of Iowa Kevin Mumford will be presenting a guest lecture. The lecture is titled “Untangling Pathology: Black Gay History Before Stonewall.” Mumford will be speaking in Anderson Social Science Center, and the lecture is free and open to the public.

Kevin Mumford is a professor in the department of history and African-American studies at the University of Iowa. He previously served as academic coordinator for the program in sexuality studies and director of undergraduate studies for the department, as well. He is also a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians (OAH). Being part of the OAH, Mumford is able to be chosen as a lecturer by the president of the organization.

Professor Mumford was chosen by the department of history to speak at Gustavus because of his significant and distinctive research on black male sexuality, including his ongoing work on “the rise of a Black Gay Identity in Contemporary America” and “the contributions of black gay, homosexual or bisexual men to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.”

Mumford’s years of work have contributed to discovering the role of gay people in the gay rights movement, which was influenced by the civil rights movement. Mumford’s work is particularly relevant to our current culture, as the United States has its first African-American president and recent attempts of abolishing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military through the court system.

Greg Kaster, a professor in the department of history, said of Mumford’s work, “This will be invaluable to historians and other scholars interested in the Civil Rights and Gay Rights movements as well as the intersections between them and between race and sexual identity.”

“I am looking forward to Dr. Mumford’s talk on black gay history before the Stonewall riots.” When we want to study social inequality in class, we often look at issues one at a time, but I think it is good to remember that they intersect. As a Caucasian female, I am affected by issues of race and of gender, but not one at a time—it all happens at once. I am excited to hear a speaker who explores that,” Caitlin Robb, a junior political science major, said.

Besides being a noted historian, Mumford has also written a book titled, Interzones: Black/White Sex Districts in Chicago and New York in the Early Twentieth Century. Multiple topics are covered, all dealing with the development of African American culture. He focuses on miscegenation, or the marriage between different races, and how it relates to an interpretation that race is at the center of modernism in the United States. His book also follows research studying important movements in African-American culture, ranging from the Jim Crowe laws to the Black Power movement in the post-Civil Rights time.

“So much of current discourse—especially media discourse—about race, sexuality and civil rights in present-day U.S. lacks historical context and insight, without which our understanding of these or any other contemporary issues is at best doomed to superficiality. Plus, attending will afford students to hear and interact with a leading scholar, in this case a historian, and isn’t that one of the reasons we are all here at Gustavus?” Kaster said.

Professor Mumford will be speaking for free on Oct. 11 at 7:00 p.m. in room 101 located in the Social Science Center. All students are welcome and encouraged to attend.