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Crystal R. Sanders Ph.D.

Who We Are

Who We Are

Crystal R. Sanders, Ph.D.


217B Willard / 311 Weaver
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 865-5227


I am a historian of the modern United States with research interests in African American History, Southern History, and the History of Black Education.  My scholarly work joins a growing body of literature that moves beyond “the two-dimensional story of oppression and submission” during the Jim Crow era of segregation and black disfranchisement to explore African Americans’ everyday acts of resistance and resiliency throughout the twentieth century in efforts to secure the rights and privileges of American citizenship.  The University of North Carolina Press published my first book, A Chance for Change: Head Start and Mississippi’s Black Freedom Struggle, in 2016 as part of its John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture.  The book considers how the Child Development Group of Mississippi (CDGM), a federal Head Start program for low-income preschoolers, produced a political battle between poor black mothers and grandmothers and white southern congressmen. Between 1965 and 1968, Mississippi's black working-class participants collaborated with the federal government to seek bottom-up change in the most repressive state in the country. They moved beyond teaching shapes and colors to challenge the state's closed political system and white supremacist ideology.