As we celebrate 50 years of Pride this year — 50 years since the Stonewall Riots, which became a national jumping-off point for the gay liberation movement — we look back in time to honor our queer forebears, those who fought for acceptance and equality before us, before Stonewall. What better way to honor our queer ancestors than through a celebration of history? Both John Howard and Jessie Wilkerson exemplify this uplifting of queer history. Howard’s history of Mississippi gay life over four decades in the twentieth century, and Wilkerson’s work in queer oral history in Mississippi set them apart not only as protectors of queer history in general but as persons deeply dedicated to supporting and remembering queer lives in our state.
We are honored to host Dr. John Howard and Dr. Jessica Wilkerson as our 2019 Oxford Pride Parade Grand Marshals.
John Howard is an Emeritus Professor of Arts and Humanities, King's College London. He is the author of Men Like That: A Southern Queer History and the editor of Carryin' On in the Lesbian and Gay South, among others. His activist affiliations include Queer Nation, ACT UP, OutRage!, and Free Chelsea Manning. He has received awards from the AHRC, British Academy, Delfina, Fulbright, Rockefeller, and King's College London Students Union.
"Party and protest go hand in hand. Our struggle continues—against fascism, Trumpism, Brexit, Pulse copycats. We celebrate anew—with decriminalization in India liberating tens of millions! Fifty years later, we remember: Stonewall was a riot!"
Jessie Wilkerson is assistant professor of history and southern studies at the University of Mississippi. She is the author of To Live Here, You Have to Fight: How Women Led Appalachian Movements for Social Justice, and she is working on a new project that tells the story of southern women’s movements from the perspective of working-class, Black and Brown, and lesbian and queer feminists. For the past year, she has worked to develop an LGBTQ oral history project and archiving initiative at the University of Mississippi. She is a proud member of the United Campus Workers of Mississippi.