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Term in Residence:2012 - 2013
Title / Appointment:Independent Scholar
Address:104 Mount Auburn Street, 3R, Cambridge MA 02138
Diane McWhorter, a journalist based in New York City, is the author of Carry Me Home (Simon & Schuster), a history of the civil rights revolution in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. It won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, among other awards. Her young-adult history of the civil rights movement, A Dream of Freedom (Scholastic) was one of The New York Times’s nine “Notable Children’s Books of 2004. A graduate of Wellesley College, she is a member of the Society of American Historians and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy in Berlin, and, most recently, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. McWhorter has been a longtime contributor to The New York Times and is on the U.S.A Today Board of Contributors, writing for its op-ed page. Her articles on race, politics, and culture have also appeared in The Nation, Slate, The American Scholar, Smithsonian, Harper’s, and other publications.
Moon of Alabama: From Nazi Germany to Tranquility Base, via the Segregated American South
At the end of World War II, the U.S. Government brings the Third Reich’s top missile expert, Wernher von Braun, and his team to America. Here the masterminds of Hitler’s deadly V-2 (“Vengeance”) weapon become heroes of the Cold War, building the rocket that puts the first man on the moon, ahead of the Russians. The Germans carry out this unprecedented technological feat in the segregated backwater of Alabama, where a “master race” has long terrorized a large black underclass, now rising up in an inexorable freedom movement. The project McWhorter will be working on at the Du Bois Institute is a narrative history of how these three major moral dramas of the twentieth century—World War II, the Cold War, the civil rights struggle—converged in perhaps the unlikeliest military-industrial complex on earth: Huntsville, Alabama.