Presented on: Thursday, December 8th at 2:00 PM EST
Driving While Black demonstrates that the car—the ultimate symbol of independence and possibility—has always held particular importance for African Americans, allowing black families to evade the dangers presented by an entrenched racist society and to enjoy, in some measure, the freedom of the open road. Melding new archival research with her family’s story, Gretchen Sorin recovers a lost history, demonstrating how, when combined with black travel guides—including the famous Green Book—the automobile encouraged a new way of resisting oppression.
Gretchen Sullivan Sorin is Director and Distinguished Service Professor at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, a training program for museum curators, educators, and directors that is part of the State University of New York College at Oneonta. She is also a Fellow of the New York Academy of historians. Dr. Sorin holds a B.A. degree from Rutgers University in American Studies, an M.A. in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and a Ph.D. from the University at Albany in American history. For the past 20 years Sorin has worked to broaden representation in the museum field for underrepresented groups. She is the recipient of the Katherine Coffey Award from the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, the Thurgood Marshall Unity Award from the Oneonta NAACP, the Philip Jones National Ephemera Society Fellowship Research Award, the State University of New York Chancellor’s Research Award, and the Chancellor’s Award for Research and Creative Activities. In 2006 she was named to the rank of Distinguished Service professor.
Dr. Sorin writes and lectures frequently on museum practice, diversity and inclusion, and African American history. Her books include Touring Historic Harlem, Four Walks in Northern Manhattan with architectural historian Andrew Dolkart, In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Through the Eyes of Others: African Americans and Identity in American Art and Case Studies in Cultural Entrepreneurship: How to Create Relevant and Sustainable Institutions. She is the author of Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights published by W. W. Norton/Liveright in 2020. Sorin is also co-writer and senior historian working with Steeplechase Films and filmmaker Ric Burns on a documentary film, Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility that aired nationwide on PBS.
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