Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch will discuss her book Better Living by Their Own Bootstraps. As the first major study to focus on Black women's activism in rural Arkansas, this work highlights previously obscured figures in Arkansas history and brings them to the forefront. These figures include agents employed by the Arkansas Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service and Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teachers. Jones-Branch looks at these activists through a historical lens and reveals how educated, middle-class Black women and rural Black women with less access to education worked together to improve their communities.
Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch is Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of History at Arkansas State University-Jonesboro. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, she received her B.A. and M.A. from the College of Charleston, and a doctorate in History from The Ohio State University. Dr. Jones-Branch is the author of Crossing the Line: Women and Interracial Activism in South Carolina during and after World War II and the co-editor of Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times. Her second manuscript, Better Living By Their Own Bootstraps: Black Women’s Activism in Rural Arkansas, 1913-1965, is now available from the University of Arkansas Press. Jones-Branch is currently working on a third book project titled “. . . To Make the Farm Bureau Stronger and Better for All the People:" African Americans and the American Farm Bureau Federation: 1920-1966. She is the co-editor of the newly created “Rural Black Studies” series for the University of Arkansas Press.
Dr. Jones-Branch is additionally a U.S. Army Persian Gulf War Veteran and a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated.