History Department
History Department

IHS Workshop: "‘It Is Not True That Nobody Starves in America’: The Mass Media, Race, and the Politics of Hunger after 1967," by Laurie B. Green, UT Austin

Mon, April 28, 2014 | GAR 4.100

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM

The media then and historical accounts now frame the ‘discovery of hunger in America’ as an act of heroism by Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who toured the Mississippi Delta in 1967 and visited the shacks inhabited by former sharecroppers. Missing from these accounts is the pressure brought to bear on Kennedy and other senators by such prominent women in the Black Freedom Movement as Fannie Lou Hamer, Unita Blackwell, and Marian Wright [Edelman]. Likewise, “discoveries” of hunger in all regions of the U.S., are also obscured, reinforcing the equation of poor with Black. Also absent is the part played by journalists themselves in constructing a narrative that posited hungry and malnourished African Americans as victims of racist officials and federal food policy rather than culturally too lazy and immoral to feed themselves. The next chapter in my book centers on the 1968 CBS television documentary, “Hunger in America,” the broadcast of which was considered by many to be a “watershed” in the politics of hunger. This chapter focuses on print, photo, and broadcast journalists—including such figures as Nick Kotz and Joseph Loftus (author of the article whose heading appears above); then-CBS reporter Daniel Schorr; and photojournalists Al Clayton, Bruce Davidson, and Gordon Parks. At the same time, it explores the specificities of these media in the portrayal of suffering.

Laurie Green, IHS Fellow and Associate Professor of History, is the author of Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle (University of North Carolina Press, 2007), winner of the 2008 Philip Taft Labor History Award, and finalist for the 2008 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award (Organization of American Historians). Her current book project is titled "The Discovery of Hunger in America: The Politics of Race, Poverty, and Malnutrition, 1965-1975."  Her research interests include the politics of race and gender in the twentieth-century U.S.; social movements; cultural studies. 

Professor Green’s faculty profile:

Randolph Lewis, Professor of American Studies, UT Austin.
Professor Lewis's faculty home page: https://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/ams/faculty/lewisrr7

Free and open to the public. RSVP required. To RSVP and receive a copy of the pre-circulated please email Courtney Meador by 9 a.m., Friday, Apr. 25.

Sponsored by: Institute for Historical Studies in the Department of History

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