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Department of History


Patricia A. Sullivan

Title: William Arthur Fairey II Professor of History
Department: History
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-2766
Office: Gambrell Hall, Room 235
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
Patricia Sullivan


Ph.D. Emory University


Specializes in United States history (1865 to the present), with an emphasis on the African American experience, politics, race relations, and the history of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Professor Sullivan’s most recent book, Justice Rising: Robert Kennedy’s America in Black and White (Harvard University Press, 2021) focuses on the development of Robert Kennedy’s public life in relationship to the civil rights movement and racial turmoil of the 1960s. The book recovers a largely unexamined dimension of Kennedy’s biography while providing a fresh consideration of one of the most transformative eras in American history – one marked by the culminating years of the civil rights movement, the explosion of racial tensions in cities across America, and struggles around race, poverty, and crime that would shape America’s “post-civil rights” racial order.

Her previous book, Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement, is the first history of the formative decades of the nation's oldest civil rights organization. Henry Louis Gates Jr. described the book as "a major contribution to our understanding of the political and cultural history of African Americans-indeed of America itself." Other books include Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era; Freedom Writer: Virginia Foster Durr, Letters from the Civil Rights Years; New Directions in Civil Rights Studies, co-edited with Armstead L. Robinson, and Civil Rights in the United States, a 2-volume encyclopedia, coedited with Waldo E. Martin Jr. 

Professor Sullivan and Professor Waldo Martin of UC-Berkeley have collaborated on several major projects. They are the founding editors of the John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture, published by the University of North Carolina Press, which has been publishing leading books in the field since 1996. For more than twenty years, they codirected a series of NEH Summer Institute at Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, an ongoing project which brings college teachers from across the country together to discuss current and recent scholarship on the history of Civil Rights/Black Freedom Struggles and collaborate on strategies for engaging students in this history—including identifying resources and revising and developing courses.  


In addition to directing several Ph.D. dissertations, I am developing a new course, “The Making of Contemporary America: US History from the 1960s to the Present,” which I taught for the first time as an Honors seminar in the spring term 2022. It will become a component to the US History Survey.

I am currently working on two research and writing projects. One involves a reconsideration of Civil Rights, Race, and Politics from the 1930s to the late 1960s. The other is the completion of a biographical study of the historian C. Vann Woodward, which builds on work begun by the late Sheldon Hackney. 


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.