Trudier Harris is University Distinguished Research Professor of English Emerita, the University of Alabama, and J. Carlyle Sitterson Distinguished Professor of English Emerita, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she taught courses in African American literature and folklore. Among her twenty-five published books are From Mammies to Militants: Domestics in Black American Literature (1982), Exorcising Blackness: Historical and Literary Lynching and Burning Rituals (1984), Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison (1991), The Power of the Porch: The Storyteller’s Craft in Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor, and Randall Kenan (1996), The Scary Mason-Dixon Line: African American Writers and the South (2009), Martin Luther King Jr., Heroism, and African American Literature (2014), and Depictions of Home in African American Literature (2021). She published her memoir, Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South, in 2003. In 2002, she received the Eugene Current-Garcia Award for selection as Alabama’s Distinguished Literary Scholar. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill created the “Trudier Harris Distinguished Professorship” in her honor in 2014. In 2018, she received an honorary degree from The College of William and Mary, the Richard Beale Davis Award for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Literary Studies, and a Resident Fellowship to the National Humanities Center. Harris was named the recipient of the 2018 Clarence E. Cason Award for Nonfiction Writing by the College of Communication & Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. She also won the 2018 SEC Faculty Achievement Award at the University of Alabama (which is a “Professor of Year” designation). In February of 2021, the Black Faculty and Staff Association at the University of Alabama inaugurated the “Dr. Trudier Harris Intercollegiate Black History Scholars Bowl.” On 5 February 2022, teams from six schools competed in the Bowl. On 10 March 2023, Harris will be inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame.
While many Americans are familiar with the song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” few know the story of Emily West, the African American woman who was the inspiration for its creation. In the excerpt below from a longer article that first appeared in 1996, University … Read More“The Yellow Rose of Texas”: The Ironic Origins of a Popular Song