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Oct. 24 MOCH Lecture will Explore African-American Gay History

For release: October 15, 2013
For press information, contact Robert Marczynski, 901/678-3516

Dr. Kevin Mumford
Dr. Kevin Mumford

Dr. Kevin Mumford, professor of history at the University of Illinois, will explore the history of African-American gay men during a lecture hosted by the University of Memphis Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities (MOCH) on Thursday, Oct. 24. Mumford will discuss “Beyond the Closet: Reinventing African-American Gay History, 1963-1988” at 6 p.m. in the University Center Theatre. A reception will precede the lecture at 5:30 p.m. in the theatre lobby.

The event is free and open to the public. Convenient and affordable parking is available in the Zach Curlin garage, directly across from the University Center.

Mumford offers his explanation of how the emergence of black gay identities, once shrouded in secrecy and deemed too controversial, was influenced by historical conceptions of respectable masculinity. He emphasizes that well before the onset of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, a creative and courageous brotherhood of activists, writers and artists joined together in local organizations, churches and clubs to make their own history. Mumford discusses the lives of these key activists and goes on to explore the intricate cross sections among community, politics and identity.

In addition to recognition as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Germany’s Erfurt Universität and a Schomburg Fellow at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Mumford is a past recipient of the Binkley-Stephenson Award, presented by the Organization of American Historians, and the Audre Lorde Prize awarded by the American Historical Association.

He is the author of several books and articles on race, politics, sexuality in modern America and how the struggle over social differences and belonging unfolded in cities and institutions. His books include Interzones: Black/White Sex Districts in Chicago and New York in the Early Twentieth Century and Newark: A History of Race, Rights, and Riots in America. His current project is a book on African-American gay activism and cultural politics.

Mumford’s lecture will serve as the keynote address of the 15th annual conference of the Graduate Association for African-American History. The program is co-sponsored by the University’s African and African-American Studies Program and the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change.

For more information on this event or the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities, visit or email

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