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Thu, 03.03.1910

Lawrence Reddick, Professor and Activist born

Lawrence Reddick

*Lawrence Reddick was born on this date in 1910. He was a Black historian, activist, and professor.

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Lawrence Dunbar Reddick earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in history from Fisk University in 1933. In 1939, he married Ella Ruth Thomas and received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago, where he wrote his dissertation on The Negro in the New Orleans Press, 1850-1860.

During the years he was working on his Ph.D., he directed a Works Project Administration collection of interviews of former slaves in Kentucky and Indiana; that 1934 project was at Kentucky State College and the faculty of Dillard University in New Orleans in 1936. An early advocate of research on the history of all persons of African ancestry worldwide, Reddick was curator of the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature at the New York Public Library from 1939 to 1948. He then became head of the library at Atlanta University Center, a consortium of Atlanta colleges.

In 1956, he became chair of the history department at Alabama State College in Montgomery. Reddick began writing for Dissent about the American civil rights struggle, the student sit-ins, and the 1955-1956 Montgomery bus boycott. He then was requested to work with Dr. King on his book about the completed boycott, Stride Toward Freedom (1958). Later Reddick finished his biography of King Crusader without Violence (1959). In 1960 the state board of education ordered Alabama State College to fire Reddick as part of the board's retaliation against students and professors involved in sit-ins.

The New York City Teachers Union awarded Reddick the Silver Jubilee Award for his courage and contributions to the movement. The American Association of University Professors censured the Alabama college for firing him without due process; the censure lasted for twenty years. Reddick taught at Coppin State Teachers' College (1960–67), Temple (1967–76), Harvard (1977–78), and Dillard University (1978-87). He wrote Worth Fighting for: a History of the Negro in the United States during the Civil War and Reconstruction (with Agnes McCarthy, 1965) and Blacks and US Wars (1976).

Reddick was well-respected as a historian and a university professor and was a contributor to educational and political journals. He had expertise in media criticism, especially the effect of radio, movies, and popular culture on public perceptions of Negroes. He died on August 2, 1995, in New Orleans at age 85.

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