Brenda Gayle Plummer

Position title: Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2022-2023)

Merze Tate Professor of History, Department of History and Department of Afro-American Studies, UW–Madison

Woman with glasses in black jacket and dark blue dress.

Jim Crow Flies

“Jim Crow Flies” is a book about the relationship of commercial aviation to race, race-making, and mobility. It argues that the imperative to control African Americans is foundational to practices of surveillance and repression that regulate broader population groups in the current era. It focuses on commercial aviation because flight is a common experience and thus a useful avenue for studying how past understandings, policies, and usages of race have been repurposed for present crises surrounding borders, safety, and citizenship. The narrative begins in the segregation era and ends with the societal changes produced by the 9/11 disaster.

Brenda Gayle Plummer (Ph.D., Cornell University) is a scholar who focuses on race and international relations. Her work links African American, U.S., Caribbean, and diplomatic history. She has written extensively on twentieth-century African American history, including the civil rights movement, Haitian history, and U. S. foreign policy. Representative works include Haiti and the Great Powers, 1902-1915; Rising Wind: Black Americans and U.S. Foreign Affairs, 1935-1960; and In Search of Power, African Americans in the Era of Decolonization, 1956-1974. Plummer received her doctorate at Cornell University where she was a student of the late Walter LaFeber. She taught at Fisk University, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities before coming to the University of Wisconsin–Madison where she has a shared appointment with the Department of Afro-American Studies and the Department of History.