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At noon on Wednesday, June 20, as part of the department’s History Is Lunch series, Rebecca Tuuri will talk about her book Strategic Sisterhood: The National Council of Negro Women in the Black Freedom Struggle, which tells the story of the largest black women’s organization during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

During Freedom Summer the National Council of Negro Women brought female observers to Mississippi, where the group’s leaders met women involved in the civil rights movement. This trip fundamentally altered the direction of the council, which changed its mission and membership structure after witnessing the severity of segregation, intimidation, and violence up close.

“By 1974, the NCNW had created a pig bank on Fannie Lou Hamer's Freedom Farm in Sunflower County, established a daycare for teenage mothers in Okolona, built a low-income home-ownership program in North Gulfport, and added 27 local sections in Mississippi,” said Tuuri. “With its Mississippi work as a model, the NCNW led the charge both nationally and locally as a women's organization devoted to civil rights.”

While the NCNW supported voter registration and desegregation, the organization was most concerned with providing food, shelter, and education for black communities. Using its extensive national network of respectable clubwomen, the NCNW offered resources, support, and even employment to local civil rights leaders such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Annie Devine, Unita Blackwell, Clarie Collins Harvey, and Jessie Mosley to implement community self-help projects. “Ultimately, in the 1960s and 1970s Mississippi changed the council, and the council changed Mississippi,” said Tuuri.

Rebecca Tuuri is an assistant professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi. She earned BAs in history and studio art from Rice University and a PhD in U.S. women’s and gender history from Rutgers University. Her first monograph, Strategic Sisterhood: The National Council of Negro Women in the Black Freedom Struggle was published in May 2018, by UNC Press. She has also published a book chapter in the edited collection U.S. Women’s History: Untangling the Threads of Sisterhood (Rutgers University Press, 2017), an article in the Journal of Women's History, and has an article forthcoming in The History Teacher. She is the winner of a 2016 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, a 2015 Moody Foundation grant to research at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, and two Mississippi Humanities Council grants.

The program will take place in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium at the Two Mississippi Museums-—the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum—-located at 222 North Street, Jackson, MS 39201. Copies of the book will be available in the Mississippi Museum Store. There is no charge to attend. For more information call 601-576-6998 or email


June 27—Stephanie R. Rolph will discuss her new book Resisting Equality: The Citizens’ Council in Three Movements. Sales and signing to follow.


July 11—B. Brian Foster will present "“‘That’s for the White Folks’: Race, Culture, and (Un)Making Place in the Rural South.”

July 18—Julian Rankin will discuss his new book Catfish Dream: Ed Scott’s Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta. Sales and signing to follow.

July 25—Anders Walker will discuss his new book The Burning House: Jim Crow and the Making of Modern America. Sales and signing to follow.

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