Rosemary Pearce is a PhD student in the American and Canadian Studies department at the University of Nottingham. Her thesis focuses on African American travel into, out of, and around the racially segregated South between the 1930s and 1960s. Rosemary examines archival materials, landmark Supreme Court decisions as well as correspondence, documentary film and oral histories to chart the relationship between civil rights and travel, revealing a cultural history of segregated travel that emphasises the experience of ordinary people attempting to cross geographical and racial barriers.

Conference Review (part three) of BAAS 2015, with ’60 Years of BAAS’ Roundtable

This year’s conference celebrated 60 years of the existence of the British Association for American Studies, so it was only fitting that the final session of the conference was “60 Years of BAAS: A Celebration.” The delegates gathered to first hear Nick Witham discuss the way BAAS’s relationship to US political power has evolved over the years. Continue reading

Fear and Motels in Las Vegas: Segregation and Celebrity on the Strip

Las Vegas was so strict in its segregation policies that it was known as the “Mississippi of the West.”[i] It was, after all, a town built on tourism and to allow blacks in was to affront white tourists from strictly segregated regions. This post looks at the ways that three well-known black entertainers challenged the segregation policies of big hotel casinos in 1950s Las Vegas. Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne and Nat King Cole each won the right for themselves and their musicians to become guests of the establishments. At the same time, the post asks whether the triumphs of these celebrities can be regarded as true civil rights victories, or whether they are simply indicators of individual star status. Continue reading