Koritha Mitchell speaks at annual lecture that ties to WUmester

Alyssa Storm

Continuing the WUmester semester, Koritha Mitchell will present the Lincoln Harman Lecture “Homemade Citizenship: All But Inviting Injury” Thursday Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Washburn Theater. It is a free lecture and it is open to anyone. 

The Lincoln Harman lecture has been around for three decades. Annually, this lecture shines light on Abraham Lincoln, his era and the trials and tribulations that occurred throughout the time period. With it being February, Abraham Lincoln’s birth month, it is the perfect time to build upon the ongoing conversation about what Abraham Lincoln was trying to accomplish. 

Mitchell will be the first African American woman to speak at this lecture. She is going to be discussing her book “From Slave Cabin to the White House” at the event. Furthermore, she will touch on how African Americans constructed their own citizenship.

“In doing so, they created a true American Story,” said Professor Bruce Mactavish of the history department.

Professor Vanessa Steinroetter, an English professor, heard Mitchell speak at an academic conference and instantly made the connection to the Lincoln Harman Lecture and this year’s WUmester theme. 

The point of the Lincoln Harman Lecture is to get people to start talking about these hard topics, to make the audience understand the relevance and think about it deeper. Having an African American woman give this lecture helps the audience get a different viewpoint of the challenges that she might have faced growing up.

“What Dr. Mitchell is going to help us think about is how those (the 13th, 14th, 15th, Amendments) have never really been delivered equally to Americans on gender, skin color, or ethnicity,” said Mactavish. “African Americans have never lost sight of that promise and have yet found themselves.” 

Kelly Erby, a professor of history, along with Steinroetter and Mactavish claim that this is not going to be a dull history lecture.

“Dr. Mitchell is just one of several women of color who will be speaking on campus this semester,” said Erby. “Flonzie Brown spoke earlier in February, Dr. Mitchell, and Dr. Carol Anderson is coming in May.” 

Erby hopes students, faculty members and community members reflect on the inequality of American citizenship and its uneven availability. This lecture will elaborate on how, even when African Americans and women eventually got the right to vote, there were still certain groups that were not included in accessing those rights.

“This is a fascinating historical time period that has so much we can learn from and that is really interesting,” said Steinroetter. “It’s not just something kind of dusty on the bookshelf; it is very relevant.”

Mitchell has a personal website, www.korithamitchell.com, that has lectures, books and ways to get involved in your community to make a change. 

This topic will show the relevance of history and the hope that is demonstrated throughout Mitchell’s book. It will highlight the intense struggle older generations of African Americans had to persevere through to achieve what they wanted.

Edited by Hannah Alleyne, Adam White, Diana Martinez-Ponce