Monica M. White

Position title: Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2020-2021)

Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison

Color photograph portrait of Monica White in 3/4 view standing outside and smiling. She wears round purple glasses, large beaded earrings, and a shirt in striped purples, pinks, and earth tones.

We Stayed: Agriculture, Activism, and the Black Southern Rural Families Who Fought to Keep the Land

The scholarship on the Great Migration concentrates on those who left the south, yet millions of African American farmer families stayed. Their voices have been overlooked. One family that chose to stay in the south and live on the land as farmers is the Paris family. George H., the first Black USDA loan officer and civil rights activist taught his sons, George M. and Wendell, the power of combining agriculture and activism. They offer us a lens to understand social movement activism across the lifespan, intergenerational activism and how agriculture was used as a strategy of resistance and resilience.

Monica M. White is an associate professor of Environmental Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology and the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies. She is the first Black woman to earn tenure in both the College of Agricultural Life Sciences (1889) and the Nelson Institute (1970) at UW-Madison. Her research investigates Black, Latinx, and Indigenous grassroots organizations that are engaged in the development of sustainable, community-based food systems as a strategy to respond to issues of hunger and food inaccessibility. Her first book, Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, published with University of North Carolina Press, received the 2020 First Book Award from the Association for the Study of Food in Society and the 2019 Eduardo Bonilla Silva Outstanding Book Award from the Division of Race and Ethnic Minorities Section of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.