Legal-Miller 2013 Violence

Title Information

Speaker: Althea Legal-Miller

Title: Sexualized Violence and the American Black Freedom Movement

Subtitle: -

Institution: Nzingha Lecture Series, London Metropolitan University

Place: London, United Kingdom

Date: May 24, 2013

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | U.S. History | Society: Civil Rights Movement; Types: Interracial Rape, Prison Rape

Full Text

Link: YouTube (Free Access)

Additional Information

Speaker: Althea Legal-Miller, Institute of the Americas, University College London


»Violence against protesters during the 1960s African American freedom movement has been popularly characterised by scenes of fire hoses, dogs, club wielding law enforcers, and vicious white mobs. Yet the suppression of civil rights struggles was also sexualized. The heroic missives of male leaders, such as Martin Luther King's letter from a Birmingham jail have popularly shaped how we view jail and the experience of imprisonment for civil disobedience in 1960s America. But as thousands of predominately young African Americans -- who in some regions were disproportionally made up of adolescent black girls -- committed to arrest and imprisonment during the movement, police officers and jailers attempted to undermine their sexual rights and the goals of the black freedom struggle through racialized sexual violence.
Researcher and freelance writer, Dr Althea Legal-Miller will argue that the semi-occluded space of the jail left female civil rights workers particularly vulnerable to an innumerable repertoire of sexualized oppressions from white male law-enforcers, which included sexual comments and threats, sexual intimidation, voyeurism, strippings, sexualized beatings, abuse of search authority, molestations, and rape.
This presentation illuminates little-known narratives of female imprisonment, and importantly, resistance during the mass incarcerations of the early 1960s. Additionally, the presentation illuminates how the politicised environment of the 1960s empowered young women and girls to break with general proscriptions against speaking about sexuality. Crucially, young women and girls understood that respectable silences around sexual discourse did not foreclose bold denunciations of sexualized violence, and in turn they began to courageously overthrow sexual taboos and use their testimonies as powerful political weapons against white male supremacy. « (Source: YouTube)

Wikipedia: African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954–68)

Added: January 10, 2015 – Last updated: January 10, 2015