Friday, September 24, 2010

Edna Greene Medford - The Quest for Black Rights in the Midst of War

Dr. Edna Greene Medford is Associate Professor and former director of the Department of History’s graduate and undergraduate programs. Specializing in nineteenth century African-American history, she teaches courses in Civil War and Reconstruction, Colonial America, the Jacksonian Era, and African-American history. Dr. Medford was educated at Hampton Institute (VA), the University of Illinois (Urbana), and the University of Maryland (College Park), where she received her Ph.D. in history. She lectures widely to scholarly and community-based groups and has presented to international audiences on topics that range from Alexis de Tocqueville to community-building among American free blacks in Civil War-era Canada. Professor Medford has served as the Director for History of New York’s African Burial Ground Project since 1996, and edited the project’s history report. She has published more than a dozen articles and book chapters on African-Americans, especially during the era of the Civil War. Her publications include The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views (with co-authors Harold Holzer and Frank Williams). Professor Medford serves as a faculty mentor to the Ronald McNair Scholars and has been the faculty sponsor for the campus chapter of Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society for the last 19 years. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of National History Day, Inc., a member of the Lincoln Forum and the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia, and serves on the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission’s Advisory Council. She served as a member of the Scholars’ Advisory panel for the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Education Committee of the Education Center at Mount Vernon Plantation. She has appeared on several segments of the History Channel’s “Civil War Journal” and on a number of C-SPAN programs. She is the 2006 recipient of the “Outstanding Graduate Faculty of the Year Award” for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (awarded by the Graduate Student Assembly). Her research awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to complete a study of community-building across international boundaries among nineteenth century African Americans and African Canadians.

Dr. Medford’s paper examined the quest for civil rights waged by African Americans during the Civil War, not only in the South but throughout the country.

She stared by looking at Illinois as an example of a “free” state that was amenable to slavery and severely restricted black rights. During the war, African Americans waged a fight in Illinois for the repealing of the state’s “black codes”, finally winning in February of 1865.

She then looked at African Americans who waged a fight for the improvement of black schools and those who fought for black enfranchisement – especially for those who served in the army. She then examined the Syracuse National Negro Convention which demanded the full benefits of citizenship for all blacks in America.

She concluded by looking at John Rock and his activities on the Supreme Court.

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