This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

This 1945 image of African American soldiers in Germany is one of the many documentary photos collected by Höhn and Klimke. Photo credit: Courtesy of the National Archives, Maryland

Conference Examines Civil Rights and African American GIs in Germany

Maria Höhn, associate professor of history at Vassar, and fellow historian Martin Klimke of the German Historical Institute of Washington, DC—whose multimedia research project “The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany” explores the little-known experiences of African American GIs serving in Germany since WWII and their role in advancing civil rights in Europe—will convene the conference “African American Civil Rights and Germany in the Twentieth Century” on the Vassar campus September 30 through October 4. The conference will feature panels, screenings, lectures, and presentations on topics including Martin Luther King, Jr. in Cold War Germany, German jazz discourse and civil rights, and African Americans’ service during WWII.

Höhn and Klimke received the NAACP’s 2009 Julius E. Williams Distinguished Community Service Award this June for their multifaceted research project and their distinguished efforts on behalf of veterans and community service partnerships. The project website contains extensive digitized copies of underground newspapers, posters, and flyers from private collections, collected oral histories from GIs and their allies, and a wide collection of photographs and other images. Photographs from the project are part of a traveling exhibition that was first mounted at the German Historical Institute and will travel throughout Germany before a pending U.S. tour. The exhibition will, however, be on display at Vassar’s James W. Palmer Gallery during the conference.

The exhibition and conference events are free and open to the public.

September 2009

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