Four black and white images of protest marches and gatherings in St. Louis, MO

Americanist Dinner Forum: Introducing  "Left in the Midwest:  St. Louis Progressive Activism in the 1960s and 1970s"

The American Culture Studies Program invites you to a Zoom webinar panel discussion featuring three contributors to Left in the Midwest. Dr. Keona K. Ervin will present her research on the St. Louis chapter of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Dr. Mary Maxfield on lesbian organizing in 1970s St. Louis, and Dr. Ezelle Sanford III on African American grassroots activism and the decline of municipal public healthcare. A moderated Q&A will follow.

All registrants will receive an exclusive promotional code to purchase Left in the Midwest from the publisher at a 35% discount.

This event is sponsored by the American Culture Studies Program and organized by Elizabeth Eikmann, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Study of St. Louis and the American Story.

The event is free and open to the public. To obtain the webinar link, please click the RSVP button below.

About Left in the Midwest

Despite St. Louis’s mid-twentieth-century reputation as a conservative and sleepy midwestern metropolis, the city and its surrounding region have long played host to dynamic forms of social-movement organizing. This was especially the case during the 1960s and 1970s, when a new generation of local activists lent their energies to the ongoing struggles for Black freedom, lesbian and gay liberation, feminist social transformations, environmental protection, an end to the Vietnam War, and more. This volume, the first of its kind, offers fifteen scholarly contributions that together bring into focus the exceptional range of progressive activist projects that took shape in a single midwestern city during these tumultuous decades. 

In contrast to scholarship that seeks to interpret the era’s social-movement initiatives in a primarily national context, the works presented in this expansive collection emphasize the importance of locality, neighborhood, community institutions, and rooted social networks. Documenting wrenching forces of metropolitan change as well as grassroots resilience,  Left in the Midwest shows us how place  powerfully shaped agendas, worldviews, and opportunities for the disparate groups that dedicated themselves to progressive visions for their city. By revising our sense of the region’s past, this volume also expands our sense of the possibilities that the future may hold for activist movements seeking change in St. Louis and beyond. 

Keona K. Ervin, a native of St. Louis, is Associate Professor and Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Bowdoin College. Ervin is the author of the award-winning Gateway to Equality: Black Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice in St. Louis (2017). A recipient of the Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Institute for Citizens and Scholars, she has published articles and reviews in International Labor and Working-Class History, the Journal of Civil and Human Rights, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, New Labor Forum, and the Los Angeles Review of Books

Mary Maxfield is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Women’s and Gender Studies at Saint Louis University (SLU), focusing on lesbian/queer community formation, technology, and space. Mary holds a PhD in American Studies from SLU, an MA in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University, and a BA in Creative Social Change from Fontbonne University. Previously, Mary’s academic work has been featured in Feminist Media Studies and Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. A 2021 Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow, Mary has a strong commitment to bridging academic and creative work, as well as to forging and sustaining queer networks. 

Ezelle Sanford III is an Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University where he teaches courses in the history of American medicine and public health as well as African American history. Dr. Sanford  is currently working on a book manuscript titled, Segregated Medicine: How Racial Politics Shaped American Healthcare  which is under contract with Columbia University Press.  Segregated Medicine utilizes the important case of St. Louis’s Homer G. Phillips Hospital, the largest Black-serving U.S. general hospital in the mid-twentieth century, to trace how the logic and legacy of racial segregation established enduring structures of health inequity. Dr. Sanford's scholarship uses historical perspectives and analysis to inform his advocacy for an equitable future in American healthcare. An alumnus of Washington University in St. Louis where he was a John B. Erin scholar, and Princeton University where he completed his doctoral studies, Dr. Sanford previously served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program on Race, Science, and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. His scholarship has been supported by the Ford Foundation, The Center for Afromerican Urban Studies and the Economy, and Johns Hopkins University among other  institutions. His scholarship has appeared in both academic and popular outlets including National Geographic, the American Journal of Public Health, Black Perspectives, Informal History, and the Journal of the National Medical Association