Françoise N. Hamlin is the Hans Rothfels Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies at Brown University. She previously taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in the history department after holding the Du-Bois-Mandela-Rodney Postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan. She earned her doctorate in African American Studies and American Studies at Yale University; her M.A. in United States Studies at the former Institute for United States Studies at the University of London; her B.A. in United States Studies at Essex University.
Many institutions and foundations have supported Hamlin's research. Two major sources came from fellowships from the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. In addition, she has won the C. Vann Woodward Dissertation Prize, the Franklin L. Riley Dissertation Prize and the Sylvia Boone Dissertation Prize for her graduate work.
This research about Clarksdale emerged from an unexpected assignment to Coahoma County as a high school exchange student. Anticipating an urban and metropolitan destination, the exchange company selected Mississippi for her year abroad, reasoning that she would "feel at home there." Life-changing experiences caused her to abandon long-held dreams and an actual place to study law at the University of London, and instead read United States Studies at the University of Essex. That new trajectory led to a study abroad year at the George Washington University, a M.A. from the University of London and a Ph.D. from Yale. This book brings that journey full circle and rightfully back to Clarksdale.
Hamlin's personal sustenance comes from her wonderful husband, Delphain Demosthenes, and their son Elijah, to whom this book is dedicated. The book is in memory of the Clarksdalians who have left their mark on the project: Aaron E. Henry (1924-1997), veteran, pharmacist and NAACP leader; Vera Mae Pigee (1925-2007), mother, beautician and NAACP leader; and Corine Bradley (1929-2005), the brave woman who took in an exchange student all those years ago and became her hero.