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Mary Barr


Mary Barr

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401



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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology

General Interests

My research contributes to an ever-growing awareness of the black freedom struggle outside the American South. Friends Disappear: The Battle for Racial Equality in Evanston, my first book, gives a full history of a suburban movement that took place near Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s. I was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) fellowship in 2020 to fund my current book project, A Brokenness that knows no Geography: Housing Segregation and Struggle in Chicago's Suburbs (1959-1968). In it, I examine organized efforts that challenged segregated residential patterns in some of Chicago’s oldest and most racially exclusive suburbs.

 The same commitment to social justice that propels my research also inspires my teaching. In the classroom, I make certain that students see themselves reflected in course materials, and I emphasize local examples and present-day social problems. I also create assignments that bridge the personal and the social, allowing students to strengthen their understanding of the sociological imagination, an ability to see the context which shapes individual decision-making. My focus on participatory pedagogy and community enrichment activities offers different approaches to learning and learning styles. 

Years at Knox: 2023-Present

Ph.D., African American Studies and Sociology, 2008, Yale University
M.A. & MPHIL, African American Studies and Sociology, 2003, Yale University
B.A., Sociology, 1998, University of California, Los Angeles

Teaching Interests
Urban sociology, race, and ethnic relations.


  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Faculty Fellowship, 2020-2021
  • 2021 Scholar in Residence, African American Studies Department, Northwestern University (due to the COVID-19 pandemic converted to ‘remote visiting scholar’) 
  • Grants to Scholars Award, Friends of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries, Madison, WI, 2017
  • William A. Elwood Visiting Fellowship in Civil Rights and African-American Studies, Harrison Institute, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 2016
  • Travel Grant from the Congregational Library & Archives, Boston, MA, 2016
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Faculty Seminar, “Rethinking Black Freedom Studies from the Jim Crow North to the Jim Crow West,” Sarah Lawrence College, NY, 2015
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on African American Struggles for Freedom and Civil Rights, W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University, 2013
  • Summer Fellow, Black Metropolis Research Consortium, University of Chicago, 2012
  • American Council of Learned Societies. New Faculty Fellowship, Nominated by Yale University, 2010-2012


Review of The Origins of the Dual City: Housing, Race, and Redevelopment in Twentieth-Century Chicago by Joel Rast, Urban History, Cambridge University Press, 48 (1), February 2021

Segregation without Segregationists: How a White Community avoided Integration in The Strange Careers of the Jim Crow North: Segregation and Struggle Outside the South, coeditors, Jeanne Theoharis, Brian Purnell, and Komozi Woodard (New York, NY:  New York University Press, 2019)

‘Together We Can Build a Nation of Love and Integration:’ The 1965 North Shore Summer Project for Fair Housing in Chicago’s Northern Suburbs in Deferred Dreams, Defiant Struggles: Critical Perspectives on Blackness, Belonging and Civil Rights, coeditors, CAAR FORECAAST Series, Violet Johnson, Gundolf Grami, and Patricia Williams Lessane (Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2018)

Friends Disappear:  The Battle for Racial Equality in Evanston (Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press, 2014).

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Printed on Saturday, June 22, 2024