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Traci Parker - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Traci Parker Traci Parker

Associate Professor of Afro-American Studies | University of Massachusetts Amherst


Traci Parker’s interests include African American women’s history, race and racism, class, labor, capitalism, and consumer culture.

Expertise (4)

Race, Class and Consumer Culture

African American History and Culture

African American History

Race and Racism


Traci Parker's broad expertise in African-American women's history, race and racism, and the history of consumer culture makes her a perennially sought-after expert in print, television and online media.

Her award-winning book, "Department Stores and the Black Freedom Movement" examines the movement to racially integrate white-collar work and consumption in American department stores from the 1930s to 1980s.

Social Media






Interview With Dr. Traci Parker (1-19-21) Hutchins Center Live Stream - Colloquium with Traci Parker (11-05-19) Meet the Author: Dr. Traci Parker 5.13.2020


Education (3)

The University of Chicago: Ph.D., History

The University of Chicago: M.A., Social Sciences/History

Cornell University: B.A., History

Media Coverage (4)

The History Of Black Love And How It Impacts Families And Relationships Today

WGBH  tv


Dt. Traci Parker joins a panel on GBH's "Basic Black" to celebrate and discuss Black love, relationships, and rituals in honor of Valentine's Day.

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Washington Journal: Washington Journal Traci Parker on the 1960 Lunch Counter Sit-Ins

C-SPAN  tv


n 1960, four African American students sat down at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, launching a civil rights movement that would spread to other cities. Professor Traci Parker joined American History TV to take viewer questions about protests against desegregation during that time.

traci parker

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Racial Injustice Outlived The American Department Store

Forbes  online


"The ideal concept of the department store that carried “everything for everybody” was far from the truth for African Americans. “Department stores celebrated democracy, but they were, in fact, Jim Crow institutions designed to satisfy the needs and desires of middle-class whites, albeit with an ambiguous color line,” says Traci Parker, Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and author of the book, Department Stores and the Black Freedom Movement. "

historic photo of store

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What Can You Do With a History Degree?

U.S. News & World Report  print


In an article about career for history majors, Traci Parker says, ""People forget that you can meld your interests together. One way someone can pursue an academic interest in history while learning about another academic subject is by studying business history."

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Publications (2)

Department Stores and the Black Freedom Movement: Workers, Consumers, and Civil Rights from the 1930s to the 1980s (Book)

University of North Carolina Press

Traci Parker


In this book, Traci Parker examines the movement to racially integrate white-collar work and consumption in American department stores, and broadens our understanding of historical transformations in African American class and labor formation.

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Sears' Complicated History with Black Customers

The Baltimore Sun

Traci Parker


"As its iconic slogan states, Sears was “Where America shops.” It made African American customers, like my family, a priority long before many of its competitors — an action that led many contemporaries and scholars to celebrate Sears as a civil rights pioneer. But Sears’ treatment of African Americans was complicated. More than that, it was contradictory: On the one hand, Sears valued black workers and consumers; on the other hand, however, it often treated them as second-class citizens and was a target of civil rights protests as a result."

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