Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities

Black History Speaker Series: Dr. Ellen Spears

Black History Speaker Series: Dr. Ellen Spears


The Department of History Black History Speaker Series will feature Dr. Ellen Spears on Friday, March 19 at 11 AM on Zoom. Dr. Spears will discuss “The Long Environmental Justice Movement in Alabama.” 

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Ellen Spears is an Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Alabama. 

Spears’ newest book, Rethinking the American Environmental Movement Post-1945 (Routledge Press, 2019) reconsiders the history of U.S. environmentalism in the context of broader social justice activism. Her 2014 book, Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town (University of North Carolina Press), won several awards: the Arthur J. Viseltear Prize for Outstanding Contribution to the History of Public Health, awarded by the Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association; the 2015 Francis B. Simkins Award from the Southern Historical Association; and the 2015 Reed Environmental Writing Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Spears is chair of the editorial board of the University of Alabama Press and serves on the editorial board of the interdisciplinary digital journal, Southern Spaces. Formerly associate director of the Southern Regional Council, the Atlanta-based civil rights research institute, Spears served as managing editor of the SRC’s quarterly journal, Southern Changes, for more than a decade.

She worked with other UA faculty and students on the successful campaign led by the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center that in 2013 resulted in the Alabama State Legislature exonerating the Scottsboro defendants. That work was recognized with the Realizing the Dream Call to Conscience Award from the University of Alabama Office of Community Affairs and the Lahoma Buford Adams Peace Award, given by the UA School of Social Work.

Last Updated: March 04, 2021