Blacks in Berkshire County, Massachusetts is a course about African Americans through four centuries from the colonial period to the modern civil rights era. The central focus is on five African Americans whose lives link a sparsely populated rural county with events and movements of enduring national significance. Each of the lives represents a different historical period in the county and nation. In these five representative African American lives, there are illuminating intersections of local and national issues. These lives intersect with decisive moments in American history. From primary sources and biographical accounts of these figures, we will discover how local and regional history inform our understanding of the broader patterns of United States history.
Frances Jones-Sneed, Ph.D. (pictured above) is Professor Emeritus, History, Political Science and Public Policy at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and former Director of Women Studies at MCLA. Jones-Sneed has taught and researched local history for over twenty-five years. She directed three National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grants entitled “The Shaping Role of Place in African American Biography” in 2006, “Of Migrations and Renaissances: Harlem/NY & South Side/Chicago, 1915–75” in 2008, and “African American Biography” on 2011.
She spearheaded a national conference on African American biography in September 2006, is co-director of the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail, a former board member of MassHumanities, and is presently a member of the Samuel Harrison Society board of directors. She was a 2008 NEH Summer Fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute at Harvard University.