Coy James Memorial Lecture Series in American History

Robinson Hall, home of the Albion College History DepartmentEach year the Albion College History Department invites a distinguished scholar in U.S. history to share their work with the faculty, students, and community at-large. This endowed lecture series was established to honor the late Professor Coy James, a much-revered member of the History faculty for many years. Some recent speakers have included:



Ben Greenberg is an investigative journalist who focuses on cold cases and unpunished violence during the Civil Rights Movement. Mr. Greenberg spoke to a standing-room-only audience in Bobbitt Auditorium on September 13 about more recent history for the annual Coy James Memorial Lecture. Through remarks titled "Finding Truth in Police Killings of Young Black Men," Greenberg explored police justification in the 1962 death of Army Cpl. Roman Ducksworth, Jr., and the 2014 death of teenager Michael Brown. 


Dom copy copy copyDom Flemons is a Grammy-award winning musician recognized for his work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops. He has played live for over one million people just within the past three years. As part co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, he has entertained at festivals ranging from the Newport Folk Festival to Bonnaroo, in addition to renowned venues such as the Grand Ole Opry.  


In November,Director, Coy Davis presented the Coy James Memorial History Lecture. He led a stimulating discussion after the screening of the documentary "Whatever happened to Idlewild?" Idlewild, MIchigan was once a wonderous place during America's segregated Jim Crow era. 


In February, Clark “Bucky” Halker, recording artist and labor historian, was the Coy James Memorial Lecturer. He illuminated the story of Calumet, its union and class struggles, and the Woody Guthrie song that inspired the film. Calumet was once a booming city in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Halker’s presentation featured a live musical performance. 


Tom Chambers, Professor of History, Niagara University presented the Coy James Memorial History Lecture in September.  Professor Chambers discussed his book, Memories of War: Visiting Battlegrounds and Bonefields in the Early American Republic.  


Dr. Philip P. Mason, author and Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History at Wayne State University was the Coy James Memorial Lecturer in November of 2011.  Dr. Mason is the author of Rum Running & the Roaring Twenties: Michigan and Prohibition.  Dr. Mason is the former Director of Archives of Labor & Urban Affairs at the Walter P. Reuther Library.


In February for Black History Month, the Coy James Memorial Lecture, entitled Albion and the American Dream, was presented by Professor Wesley Dick. Professor Dick discussed perspectives on the history of the Albion community, including the role of “the Albion Malleable Iron Company” in creating Albion’s multi-ethnic and inter-racial population, during World War II, desegregation of the West Ward School, the presidential campaign vist of John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King., Jr.’s Albion speech, and Albion during the first Earth Day of 1970 when CBS news put Albion on its national network special.


Dr. Kristin Hoganson (University of Illinois) presented her study on Buying Into Empire: Exploring Material and Food Consumption,1865-1920, and the Historical Context of Globalization. Dr. Hoganson specializes in the history of the United States in global context and the cultures of U.S. imperialism.


Kevin K. Gaines (University of Michigan) spoke on American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates in the Civil Rights Era. Gaines is director of the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies and professor of history at the University of Michigan. He is author of the award-winning Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture during the Twentieth Century.


Thomas J. Sugrue (University of Pennsylvania) presented his research on Jim Crow's Last Stand: Detroit and America's Unfinished Struggle for Racial Equality. Prof. Sugrue is the author of the prize-winning The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton University Press).


Mae Ngai (University of Chicago) shared her work on An Ironic Testimony to the Value of American Democracy: Assimilationism and the World War II Internment of Japanese Americans. Prof. Ngai is the author of Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America, 1924-1965 (Princeton University Press). Impossible Subjects has received multiple honors including the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize from Organization of American Historians and the Littleton Griswold Prize from American Historical Association.


Nick Savatore (Cornell University) presented Singing in a Strange Land: C.L. Franklin's Ministry from Mississippi to Detroit, 1915-1984, the focus of his most recent book.