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CATEGORY: HistoryClear

SUB-CATEGORY: U.S. HistoryClear

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Suzanne Smith

Associate Professor, Department of History and Art History

Expertise: History of Motown, American Popular Music, Blues, Jazz, Bluegrass, Country Music, Civil Rights Movement, African-American History and Culture, Urban History and Film, History of Death in America, Black Entrepreneurship

Smith is the author of "Dancing in the Street: Motown and the Cultural Politics of Detroit"(Harvard University Press, January 2000), which explores Motown and its relationship to the black community of Detroit and the civil rights movement. The book was awarded third place in the 11th annual Gleason Music Book Awards, sponsored by NYU, Rolling Stone, and BMI.

Her new book, "To Serve the Living: Funeral Directors and the African American Way of Death" (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, February 2010), explores the role of funeral directors in African American life and their participation in the national civil rights movement.

She completed her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 1996. She has also contributed to various public history projects including the film Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring for the American Experience series on PBS, and the series, I’ll Make Me A World: African American Arts in the Twentieth Century, from Blackside Productions.

Smith can talk about the relationship of popular culture, music, and art to social protest; the study of film and collective memory; and the history of death in America.


Media Contact: Michele McDonald, 703-993-8781,