Public Info

Freeholder Board Celebrates Black History Month with “The Great Migration: The Black Southerner in the Nation’s Imagination”

Dr. Melissa Cooper.

Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders invites members of the public to explore African-American history with Dr. Melissa Cooper, Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers University Newark, in celebration of Black History Month. Dr. Cooper will present a talk titled, “The Great Migration: The Black Southerner in the Nation’s Imagination,” at noon on Wednesday, February 20, at the Cranford Campus of Union County College, 1033 Springfield Avenue, Room N4.

The event is free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required.

“Dr. Cooper has made significant contributions to our understanding of American history, by exploring the attitudes that shaped conventional social science interpretations of the African-American experience during the last century,” said Union County Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “Her insights are keenly relevant today and we are looking forward to a lively and informative discussion.”

Dr. Cooper is a writer, historian, professor and author of the groundbreaking study, Making Gullah: A History of Sapelo Islanders, Race, and the American Imagination.

In Making Gullah, Cooper upends the conventional study of Sapelo Island by refocusing the observational lens on those who studied the islanders and their culture. She unmasks the connections between the rise of the social sciences in the 1920’s, the voodoo craze during the interwar years, the black studies movement, and black land loss and land struggles in coastal black communities in the Low Country.

Dr. Cooper has discussed her work in numerous public appearances as well as on radio and podcasts. Interest in her work has reached beyond academic communities in the United States, leading to presentations at international conferences in the Dominican Republic, the U.K., Canada and Spain.

Dr. Cooper is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers University-Newark and has been a member of the faculty at the University of South Carolina and Columbia University.

For more information about “The Great Migration: The Black Southerner in the Nation’s Imagination,” visit the Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs online at, call 908-558-2550 or email

This free event is sponsored by the Freeholder Board through the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, and is funded in part by the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of Cultural Affairs in the Department of State.

#  #

For all Union County programs and services visit, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email or use the online Contact Form.

Connect with Union County on social media.