Oberlin College and Conservatory

Driving While Black: A Conversation with Historian, Author, and Documentarian Gretchen Sorin

Tuesday, April 13 at 7:00pm

Virtual Event

The Oberlin Heritage Center invites you to join Gretchen Sullivan Sorin for a free, virtual program on Tuesday, April 13 at 7 p.m.

The presentation is based on Sorin’s book Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights, which was ranked one of Bloomberg’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2020. Sorin’s book represents decades of research, interviews, photographs, and records that convey both the opportunities and dangers black motorists faced—and continue to face—on the road. From the relief of independent mobility, to the hostility of sundown towns and systemic racism, to the automobile as a personal status symbol, to the unique businesses that catered to African American travelers, Sorin takes readers on a road trip of American history, culture, resilience, and ingenuity.

The book also formed the basis of the documentary “Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America,” codirected by Sorin and Ric Burns. This documentary, which first aired in October 2020, is now available for free public viewing. The book can be purchased at Ben Franklin/MindFair Books and the documentary and book can be borrowed from the Oberlin Public Library.

Sorin earned a BA from Rutgers University in American Studies, an MA in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program / SUNY Oneonta, and a PhD from SUNY Albany in History. Sorin is a Distinguished Professor and Director of The Cooperstown Graduate Program as well as a museum consultant and scholar. 

The program will begin with an introduction to her findings, followed by a conversation facilitated by Meredith Gadsby, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College. Dr. Gadsby is also Special Assistant to the President for Racial Equity and Diversity, and Commission CoChair of the Presidential Initiative on Racial Equity and Diversity The program will end with an opportunity for viewers to submit questions..

Advance registration is required for this free Zoom program at: http://bit.ly/2No73FD. Registrants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. We hope to see you there!

Event Type

Oberlin Community/Service, Virtual Events



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Portrait of Gretchen Sorin appears on top of her "Driving While Black" book cover.

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Oberlin Heritage Center

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