Date of Award
Mary Niall Mitchell
As the nineteenth century ended, the American South entered a new century equipped with the foundations of a Jim Crow society. Through political intimidation, segregation, and racial violence—most notoriously through the practice of lynching—white Southerners reasserted white supremacist rule. Yet the lynching of Black men in this era is more often documented than the plight of Black women at the hands of white mobs and local authorities. By focusing on Jennie Steers, a woman lynched outside of Shreveport, Louisiana in 1903, this project sheds light on the violent history of Northwest Louisiana and the ways in which Black women navigated the racial codes and structures of the segregated South. Steers’s story challenges the inequitable production of history that purposefully forgets Black women and racial violence in Southern historical memory. Only by unearthing the life of Steers and other women, and highlighting Black female resistance to white supremacy, can historians counter the fictitious, benevolent, and romanticized portrayals of Southern history still embedded in the contemporary landscape.
Smith, Lauren, "The Story of Jennie Steers: An Examination of Race, Gender, and Lynching in Northwest Louisiana" (2023). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. 3088.