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  • Writer's pictureChris Lewis

Keynote Spotlight: Historian Donna Murch

As we enter the final week before the Friday kickoff this year’s CCSS Annual Conference we plan to post two final spotlights in order to share the amazing work being done by this year’s panelists.

Reflecting back on this summer’s nationwide protests and the conversations that have ensued as a result of them, historian Donna Murch’s work should prove quite useful. In her groundbreaking book, Living for the City: Migration,

Education and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California, professor Murch explores the role that Merritt College and other public universities played in the role of the Black Panther Party’s development.

Her book chronicles the coalescence of young, poor, black southern migrants banded together to fight the social crisis of police violence and challenge the legitimacy of the establish black leadership of the previous generation as well as other state and educational authorities that sought to limit their voices and stifle their agency. As we anticipate what might become of the present foment, and emergent social movements, Murch’s work offers critical insights and plenty of food for thought.

Murch is one of only eight people interviewed for Sam Pollard’s 2020 documentary, MLK/FBI. This film takes a more critical and complex historical look at the interplay between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the FBI and other law enforcement agencies that viewed his actions as a direct threat to the nation. Standing in contrast to the current narrative of a much beloved national icon, this film, like a lot of emerging scholarship, is offering new insights and provoking new questions, many of which seem as relevant today as they did when they were first surfaced decades ago. We think you might appreciate the opportunity to read this January 2021 review of the film by Carla Hay.

Look for the final spotlight featuring Dr. George Lipsitz by Wednesday.

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