Community remembers Prof. Leslie Brown’s impactful life

On Aug. 5, Leslie Brown, professor of history, passed away after a battle with cancer.

Brown joined the College in 2008 and taught a number of history courses on race, gender and documentary studies. Brown authored Upbuilding Black Durham: Gender, Class, and Black Community Development in the Jim Crow South and won the Organization of American Historians’ Frederick Jackson Turner Award. She also wrote African American Voices: A Documentary Reader from Emancipation to the Present in 2014.

Brown and her partner Annie Valk, associate director for public humanities and a lecturer in history, co-edited Living with Jim Crow: African American Women and Memories of the Segregated South in 2010, which won the 2011 Oral History Association Book Award.

Brown chaired the Williams Reads Committee and the Calendar and Schedule Committee.

She also served on the Africana Studies Advisory Committee and the Committee on Diversity and Community.

Brown was born in New York City and raised in Albany, N.Y. She completed her undergraduate studies at Tufts University and graduated in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in English and sociology. Prior to completing graduate school at Duke University, Brown worked for McDonald’s Corp. and Skidmore College as an administrator, where she directed the Higher Education Opportunity Program.

While at Duke, Brown co-coordinated a collaborative research and curriculum project at the Center for Documentary Studies. She graduated with a doctorate in history in 1997 and proceeded to teach at Skidmore, Duke, the University of Missouri St. Louis and Washington University in St. Louis before coming to the College.

The College will be holding a memorial gathering on Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. in the ’62 Center Main Stage. Members of the history department, Rick Spalding, chaplain of the College, and Valk have collaborated to plan this event.

“The gathering will not be a religous service per se, but rather a lifting up of the remarkable carer and the luminous personality of one of this community’s most tireless members,” Spalding said.

Attendees will celebrate Brown’s life and career. Faculty members, current and recent students, academic mentors and friends will speak. Gina Coleman and Rhon Manigault-Bryant, associate deans of the faculty, will perform musical selections, and members of Sankofa will deliver a step performance.

For more information, contact Rick Spalding.

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