UMass Amherst Doctoral Student Awarded Gilder Lehrman Research Fellowship

AMHERST, Mass. – David Lucander, of Leverett, a doctoral candidate in Afro-American studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been awarded a research fellowship by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Lucander, who is one of 26 Gilder Lehrman Fellows for the first half of 2008, will conduct research at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York for his dissertation, “It is a New Kind of Militancy: The March on Washington Movement, 1940-1946.”

According to Lucander, the March on Washington Movement was a black protest organization that agitated for equal employment opportunities in defense plants during World War II. Led by A. Philip Randolph, founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the March on Washington Movement has generally been regarded as a paper organization, says Lucander, but he has found evidence that the group was very effective at the local level.

“There was a strong network of railroad porters and the NAACP that staged protests at defense plants in cities across the country,” says Lucander. Though the movement threatened to march on the nation’s capital, he says, the local protests helped influence opinion in favor of support for two executive orders issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that banned discrimination by the government and federal contractors. The protections extended by the president ultimately lasted only for the duration of the war, says Lucander.

He plans to begin his research at the Schomburg Center this week. His adviser is John Bracey, professor of Afro-American studies.

Lucander graduated summa cum laude with B.A. in history from Westfield State College in 2003 and earned his M.A. in Afro-American studies at UMass Amherst in 2006.

He is the recipient of the James Z. Naurison Scholarship and the Sampson Kapinos Scholarship from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and has received an Opportunity Award Fellowship from UMass Amherst.

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History awards short-term fellowships to doctoral candidates, postdoctoral scholars and independent scholars to conduct work in five archives in New York City: the Gilder Lehrman Collection at the New-York Historical Society, the library of the New-York Historical Society, the Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the New York Public Library and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The Gilder Lehrman Institute has funded a total of 501 fellowships to date.