Rebecca Jo Plant - U.S. Women, Gender & Sexuality Faculty Search Talk

Rebecca Jo Plant

Associate Professor, University of California, San Diego


“'The Crowning Insult': Federal Segregation and the Gold Star Mother Pilgrimages of the Early 1930s.”


Between 1930 and 1933, the US federal government conducted a remarkable program, referred to as the “gold star mother pilgrimages,” that allowed nearly 6,700 mothers and widows of deceased World War I servicemen to visit the American cemeteries in Europe where their loved ones lay buried. Allegedly designed to honor the bereaved women, the program insulted eligible African American women by requiring them to travel separately. This talk will analyze the gender and class dimensions of the ensuing protests, which were spearheaded by the NAACP and the Chicago Defender, the nation’s most widely circulated black newspaper. It will also highlight the role of African American pilgrimage officials, which reveals surprising complexities in the operation of state power. Finally, the talk will discuss the experiences of the mothers and widows who participated in these unlikely voyages, and how the pilgrimages came to be represented and remembered in black communities.


(United States/Women, Gender, Sexuality History Search Talk)


Questions should be directed to Kristina Andrews 510-642-2383 or email:

Monday, February 3, 2014 - 4:00pm
All Welcome
3335 Dwinelle Hall