From Slavery to Civil Rights

Thursday 1th December

CSIS in partnership with Liverpool University Press are pleased to announce our next book talk featuring Dr Hilary McLaughlin-Stonham, Coventry University.



The history of Louisiana from slavery until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shows that unique influences within the state were responsible for a distinctive political and social culture. In New Orleans, the most populous city in the state, this was reflected in the conflict that arose on segregated streetcars that ran throughout the crescent city.

This study chronologically surveys segregation on the streetcars from the antebellum period in which black stereotypes and justification for segregation were formed. It follows the political and social motivation for segregation through reconstruction to the integration of the streetcars and the white resistance in the 1950s while examining the changing political and social climate that evolved over the segregation era. It considers the shifting nature of white supremacy that took hold in New Orleans after the Civil War and how this came to be played out daily, in public, on the streetcars. The paternalistic nature of white supremacy is considered and how this was gradually replaced with an unassailable white supremacist atmosphere that often restricted the actions of whites, as well as blacks, and the effect that this had on urban transport.

Streetcars became the ‘theatres’ for black resistance throughout the era and this survey considers the symbolic part they played in civil rights up to the present day.

About our Speaker:

Dr Hilary McLaughlin-Stonham currently works as an Associate Lecturer in research and methodology at Coventry University. She holds an MA from Glasgow University in History, and an MA from Bangor University in Heritage Management. She graduated from Ulster University in 2018 with a PhD in History where she was also awarded Best Final Year PhD 2017, and Best Paper Published 2016. On graduating she took up the post of Visiting Lecturer in American History and American Studies at York St John University until commencing her current post at Coventry University.

In addition to her 2020 publication, From Slavery to Civil Rights: On the Streetcars of New Orleans 1830s-Present, she has published on transport and race in the European Journal of American Culture, The Irish Journal of American Studies, and the Journal of Socialist History. She received the IAAS conference grant in 2016 and was fully funded by the Department of Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland 2014-17, and the European Social Fund for Wales 2005-2007.

Hilary is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and her current research interests focus on American influences on British racial history. She was the research historian for Liverpool University’s permanent exhibition ‘A history of 19-23 Abercromby Square’ which opened in October this year. She currently lives in Donegal with her husband, two daughters and two cats where she also engages with local Irish history projects.

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