John T. Washington Lecture Series - "'It Could, in Fact, Conquer the Color Line': Black Women, Beauty Advertisements, and Dreams of Equality."

Thursday, February 17, 2022 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

UCF Department of History's Africana Studies Program in partnership with UCF Alumni is pleased to host the Fourth Annual Dr. John T. Washington Lecture Series benefiting scholarships for Africana Studies Minors.  

This lecture series upholds the legacy and continues the mission of Dr. John T. Washington. The lecture will take place on Thursday, February 17, 2022 virtually on Zoom starting at 6 p.m. 

This year's featured speaker, Dr. Leah Gaines will present "'It Could, in Fact, Conquer the Color Line': Black Women, Beauty Advertisements, and Dreams of Equality."

Considering early 1900s American beauty advertisements, this presentation serves to explore some of the ways that beauty has been advertised to Black women under the guise of equality, social mobility, and respectability. Ultimately, the findings share that a specific beauty was a way to first class citizenship, a new ethnic identity, and cleanliness. This understanding of what beauty was for Black women was heavily influenced by white supremacy, the social construction of race, and racism. Considering historical practices of determining beauty and access to opportunity, this research calls for the challenging of current and future societal definitions of beauty, the politics of respectability, and the way that race is either privileged or deemed unworthy in society.

Dr. Gaines joined the University of Central Florida in Fall 2021 as a lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies. She holds a PhD in African American and African Studies, with a concentration in Urban Education, from Michigan State University. She received a Master’s from Morgan State University, where she studied History and African American Studies. She completed her undergraduate studies at Towson University, where she majored in Psychology, and minored in African American Studies. Her research interests are in structural inequities, urban education, student experiences, African American Language, Black women and beauty, race, and identity. Her latest publication, In the Midst of the Water Crisis: Language and Resistance in Flint, is an ethnographic work that examines how an educational community in Flint, Michigan has used language to resist the ongoing water crisis. 

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Africana Studies Black History Month