Tyina Steptoe

Brown-Eyed Handsome Men: Sex, Race, and Rock ‘n’ Roll in the West

A Lecture by Tyina Steptoe
Feb 19, 2020, 4:30 PM, Feb 20, 2020, 12:45 PM
Newhouse Center for the Humanities
Free and open to the public

Tyina Steptoe is an associate professor of history at the University of Arizona. Her work focuses on race, gender, and popular culture in the United States. Her book, Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City (University of California Press, 2016), has received several awards, including the Kenneth Jackson Award for Best Book (North American) from the Urban History Association and the W. Turrentine Jackson Book Prize from the Western History Association. Her other writing has appeared in publications such as the American QuarterlyJournal of African American HistoryTIMEJournal of the West, and the Oxford American.

Brown-Eyed Handsome Men: Sex, Race, and Rock ‘n’ Roll in the West
Wednesday, February 19th, 4:30-6:00pm
Newhouse Center Lounge

This presentation argues for a western reorientation to the history of race, sex and early rock ‘n’ roll by looking at the arrests and convictions of musicians Chuck Berry and Baldemar Huerta, better known as Freddy Fender, in 1960. Berry was convicted of violating the Mann Act after crossing state lines with Janice Escalanti, an Apache teenager he met in El Paso. Freddy Fender, a Texas-born Mexican-American musician, was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana. He spent nearly three years in Angola state prison. He and his fans felt that the arrest and conviction stemmed from the fact that the married Fender was having an affair with an Anglo woman. Drawing on court documents, memoirs, and news coverage, this presentation examines the tensions that fueled these scandals: the mobility of men of color west of the Mississippi River, civil rights-era anxieties over sex and racial integration, and concerns about gender conformity in the early Cold War.

Open Class: Hidden Histories of Race in the Jim Crow Era
Thursday, February 20th, 12:45-2:00pm
Newhouse Center

In this open class session, Dr. Tyina Steptoe discusses her experiences researching the book, Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City, in order to highlight the limitations of traditional archival research for studies of race. The presentation especially focuses on the use of audio and visual sources to tell the stories of the Black, Creole and ethnic Mexican Houstonians not recognized in the city’s “official” records. This is a Wellesley College community event. 

Generously supported by:

the History Department, Newhouse Center and the North American West faculty reading group.