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Quest for equality

Noted historian Neil Foley to deliver annual Tropp lecture

The award-winning historian Neil Foley has devoted nearly half of his life to examining how ethnicity and racism have shaped America’s past and present.

Professor Neil FoleyFoley will continue his quest as the speaker at Wheaton College’s annual Miriam Lee Tropp Memorial Lecture. His presentation, titled “Black and Brown in the Racial Borderlands of the American Southwest,” will take place on Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Mary Lyon Hall 221.

Foley has been a professor of American history for 20 years and is currently the history department chair at Southern Methodist University. He has written four books on the complexities of racial identity, immigration, social rights and citizenship in 19th and 20th century America, and is noted for his pioneering work in Latino and Black American studies.

He has won seven national fellowships, including two Fulbright Senior Fellowships. Foley’s most recent book, Quest for Equality: The Failed Promise of Black-Brown Solidarity, received a Huffington Post “Best Social and Political Book of the Year” award in 2010. Based partly on his Quest for Equality research, Foley’s lecture will address 20th century Mexican American and African American civil rights struggles in southwestern America.

“These lecture events are exciting opportunities for students to learn about the work of scholars at other colleges and universities and for us to learn more about the interests and perspectives of students and others who attend these lectures,” said Foley.

Foley has never lectured at Wheaton College, despite having family roots in southeastern Massachusetts. However, in true Wheaton spirit, he has already examined the connections between his studies and the Wheaton community.

“Coming to Wheaton is an exciting opportunity for me to meet students who may share a different perspective on the Southwest, or at least one that reflects regional concerns regarding the changing demographics of Massachusetts and the rest of New England,” Foley said.

His lecture will connect with many academic disciplines, from sociology and anthropology to Hispanic studies, African American studies, and history. Associate Professor of History John Bezis-Selfa’s class “Latinos in the U.S.” will meet with Foley before the lecture to discuss the struggles of Latino integration, discrimination, and identity in America.

Established in 1967, the Miriam Lee Tropp Lecture is an annual, multidisciplinary lecture series dedicated to Miriam Lee Tropp ’65 by her friends and family.

--Alex Cilley '14