Through lecture and film clips from her award-winning book and PBS documentary Driving While Black, Gretchen Sullivan Sorin will explore the deep background of the phrase “driving while Black”, rooted in realities that have been an indelible part of the African American experience for hundreds of years. This is a deeply compelling story that helps us to understand the American experience.
In her lecture and film clips, Dr. Sullivan Sorin will explore how the advent of the automobile brought new mobility and freedom to African Americans, but also exposed them to dangers along the road, a history that still resonates today. This is both a riveting history and a personal story – at once harrowing and inspiring, deeply revealing and profoundly transforming. It is the story of African Americans on the road from the advent of the automobile through the seismic changes of the 1960s and to the present challenges of “driving while black.”
Gretchen Sullivan Sorin is Director and Distinguished Service Professor at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, a training program for museum curators, educators, and directors that is part of the State University of New York College at Oneonta. She is the author of Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights published by W. W. Norton/Liveright in 2020. The book was a finalist for the NAACP’s 2021 Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. Sorin is also co-writer and senior historian with Steeplechase Films and filmmaker Ric Burns on the documentary film, Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility that aired nationwide on PBS. The film received the 2021 American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award. In 2021 MotorTrend Magazine named her one of its 50 most influential persons of the year in the automobile industry.
The event will be followed by a reception with special access to the DR Center gallery, currently showing Portraits of Process.
The snow date for this event is Thursday, February 8.
Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America
Thursday, February 1, 2024
The David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center at Pocantico
200 Lake Road, Tarrytown