Skip to content

Scalawag: A White Southerner's Journey Through Segregation to Human Rights Activism



W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
922 Park Avenue, Richmond, VA 23284


VCU Libraries celebrates the release of the autobiography of noted civil-rights activist Dr. Edward H. Peeples, Jr., with an evening panel discussion featuring Dr. Peeples in a conversation on his life's mission with his book contributors, Dr. Nancy MacLean and Dr. James H. Hershman, Jr., moderated by Dr. John Kneebone. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. A book signing and reception will follow.

This event is free and open to the public, but please register. Parking is available for a fee in the West Broad StreetWest Main Street and West Cary Street parking decks. If special accommodations are needed, or to register offline, please call (804) 828-0593 prior to March 14, 2014.


Registration is now closed.

About the Book

Scalawag: A White Southerner's Journey Through Segregation to Human Rights Activism is the autobiography of Dr. Edward H. Peeples, Jr. It tells the story of a white working-class youth who became an unlikely civil-rights activist. Born in 1935 in Richmond, where he was taken to segregated churches and sent to segregated schools, Peeples was taught the ethos and lore of white supremacy by the white adults around him. But by age nineteen, he had become what the these people called a "traitor to the race."

At Richmond Professional Institute (the forerunner to VCU on the Monroe Park Campus), Peeples was encouraged by a lone teacher to think critically. Peeples found his way to the black freedom struggle and began a long career of activism. He challenged racism in his U.S. Navy unit and engaged in sit-ins and community organizing. Later, as a VCU professor, he agitated for good jobs, health care and decent housing for all; pushed for the creation of courses in African American studies at VCU in the early 1970s; and worked toward equal treatment for women, prison reform and more.

Covering fifty years' participation in the civil-rights movement, Peeples’s gripping story brings to life an unsung activist culture to which countless forgotten individuals contributed, over time expanding their commitment from civil rights to other causes.

About the Speakers

Author: Dr. Edward H. Peeples, Jr. is associate professor emeritus of preventive medicine and community health at VCU.

Book contributor: Dr. Nancy MacLean is the William H. Chafe professor of history and public policy at Duke University and author of The American Women's Movement, 1945–2000 (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009) and Freedom Is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace (Harvard University Press, 2006), among other publications.

Book contributor: Dr. James H. Hershman, Jr. is a lecturer in the Georgetown University Graduate Liberal Studies program. Formerly, he was senior fellow in the Georgetown University Government Affairs Institute.

Moderator: Dr. John Kneebone is chair of the VCU Department of History and associate professor of history. He also coordinates the public-history component of the history graduate program. He has taught at Princeton and Harvard Universities and at the University of Alabama. For 16 years, he was an editor and then director of Publications and Education Services at the Library of Virginia. He is the author of Southern Liberal Journalists and the Issue of Race, 19201944.


VCU Libraries

James Branch Cabell Library Monroe Park Campus
901 Park Ave., Box 842033
Richmond, VA 23284-2033
Toll-free: (844) 352-7399
(804) 828-1111
All Libraries
Tompkins-McCaw Library MCV Campus
509 N. 12th St., Box 980582
Richmond, VA 23298-0582
Toll-free: (844) 352-7399
(804) 828-0636

Reserve a room

Please choose a library