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Oconee Library History Series: "From Slavery to the Stars: Examining the Lives and Legacies of Harriet Jacobs and Katherine Johnson"

PhD Candidate, Graduate Assistant
flier for Oconee County library history talk with Maya Brooks Sept. 10
Oconee County Library

This month's History Lecture at the Oconee County Library features UGA Ph.D. student Maya Brooks presenting a talk that explores the lives of Harriet Jacobs and Katherine Johnson and the ways in which their experiences as Black women in America were both similar and different.  Jacobs was born enslaved and her narrative explores her struggle to not only free herself but her children as well. Johnson, best known for her work at NASA, lived a century later and experienced multiple world events including the Great Depression, WWII, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Space Race
as part of the Cold War. Using their memoirs as primary sources (Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and My Remarkable Journey) Maya makes the argument that despite being born a century apart they are more alike than we can imagine. Several themes impacted both their lives including: the interconnected issues of race/class/color, experiences of womanhood and motherhood, power dynamics in a capitalist society, and operating in informal and formal education networks.

Maya Brooks is a third year doctoral student in the Department of History at the University of Georgia and is also working on a graduate certificate in African American Studies. She received her Bachelor of Arts in history from Agnes Scott College in 2017. In 2020 she received her Master of Arts in public history as well as a certificate in museum studies from the University of West Georgia. Her research specializes in the intersections of race, class, gender, and economics in the 20th century U.S. South with emphasis on the African American experience and Georgia.

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