Videos

Virtual Book Club: Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall (Fellow, 1996–97), Julia Cherry Spruill Professor Emerita of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, National Humanities Medal Recipient

Winner of the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography

book cover

Descendants of a prominent slaveholding family, Elizabeth, Grace, and Katharine Lumpkin grew up in a culture of white supremacy. But while Elizabeth remained a lifelong believer, her younger sisters chose vastly different lives. Seeking their fortunes in the North, Grace and Katharine reinvented themselves as radical thinkers whose literary works and organizing efforts brought the nation’s attention to issues of region, race, and labor.

Sisters and Rebels follows the divergent paths of the Lumpkin sisters, who were “estranged and yet forever entangled” by their mutual obsession with the South. Tracing the wounds and unsung victories of the past through to the contemporary moment, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall revives a buried tradition of Southern expatriation and progressivism; explores the lost, revolutionary zeal of the early twentieth century; and muses on the fraught ties of sisterhood.