A black and white photo of a family driving in a car
– courtesy of Gretchen Sorin
December 3rd, 2020
4:00PM - 5:00PM

How did the automobile fundamentally change African American life?

In Driving While Black (W.W. Norton, February 2020), author Gretchen Sorin examines the history of black mobility in the United States from the antebellum period to present day.

Acclaimed by The New York Times for making “powerfully clear the magnitude of the injustices and harrowing encounters endured by African-Americans traveling by ‘open’ road, as well as of their quiet acts of rebellion and protest, which went far beyond having to find alternative places to eat, sleep and buy gas,” Driving While Black weaves archival research with Sorin’s family story to reveal how the automobile encouraged a new way of resisting oppression.

In this conversation with Saundra Thomas, Gretchen Sorin explores and examines the history of Black mobility in the United States.

“This excellent history illuminates how car ownership provided a measure of safety and independence and also played a vital role in the civil-rights movement.” 
The New Yorker

Author bio
Gretchen Sorin is a distinguished professor and director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program of the State University of New York. She has curated innumerable exhibits—including with the Smithsonian, the Jewish Museum and the New York State Historical Association—and lives in upstate New York. Her exhibition work investigates the intersections of social justice, democracy, voting and community issues in archival research.

OHNY Stacks is a series of book talks exploring the unknown, the unseen, and the unnoticed. These conversations shine a light on the impact of some of the historical staples of American life and how they have shaped our cities and continue to affect inhabitants.

This was an event hosted live on Zoom. Watch here.