Last week, a 2013 graduate of our department, Dr. Jared Leighton was awarded the highest honor in the University of Nebraska–the Folsom Distinguished Dissertation Award. His advisor Professor Patrick D. Jones was on hand the make remarks and present the award to Jared. Jared’s dissertation is truly groundbreaking, and I am honored to have served on his dissertation committee.
His work explored the gay and lesbian activists, black and white, in the African American freedom struggle from the 1950s to the 1970s. For his dissertation, “Freedom Invisible: Gays and Lesbians in the African American Civil Rights Movement,”
Dr. Jared Leighton wins the Folsom Distinguished Dissertation Award, February 2014. University of Nebraska.
Jared conducted dozens of oral histories and submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to declassify F.B.I. files on the subject. The result is a stunning piece of research and a sophisticated and subtle analysis of gay and lesbian activists. Leighton argues that the black freedom struggle provided an important training ground for gay and lesbian activists, and he turns our attention toward a range of complex and intersecting motivations for activism among gays and lesbians, as a result moving beyond the standard interpretation stressing the religious basis for activism. Congratulations Jared!