Interview with Obvi, We’re the Ladies

Photo credit: William Farrington

This month I was interviewed by Obvi, We’re the Ladies, a Chicago-based blog, as part of their new #LucyLives series. Named after resistance leader Lucy Parsons, the interview series features women of color leaders who carry on Parson’s legacy.

Tell us about your background and how you got started with your calling in life.

I grew up in a tight-knit community of individuals with a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the world in which they lived. My mother fostered a rich intellectual environment that fueled my interest in global issues at a very young age. She encouraged my desire to read and exposed me to a wealth of books on diverse topics, peoples, and cultures.

I did not set out to become a historian—I had plans to become an attorney but I decided to take a history course as an undergrad to fulfill a general education requirement. That decision changed the course of my life. One history class quickly became two and before long, I could hardly imagine doing anything else but studying history. Through careful mentoring, I found my calling to become a history professor.

What do you identify with about Lucy Parsons?

In her book, White Enough to be American, scholar Lauren L. Basson describes Lucy Parsons as someone who had the “ability to transcend racial and gender barriers and achieve a powerful, oppositional political voice threatened conventional definitions of the sociopolitical order.” In all aspects of my writing, teaching, research, and service, I try to be a force for change even in spaces where my ideas are not always valued. Like Parsons, I try to speak out against injustice and thereby seek to challenge the social order (in the academy and beyond).

*Click here to read the entire interview*