Leslie Brown was born in New York City and grew up in Albany, New York. She attended Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, where she received a B.A in sociology and English. After working for the McDonald’s Corporation as a manager and field supervisor she served as a college administrator at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, where she directed the Higher Education Opportunity Program. She returned to graduate school in 1990, and received a certificate in Women’s Studies and her A. M. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. From 1990-1995 she co-coordinated “Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South, a collaborative research and curriculum project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke.
She is the author of Upbuilding Black Durham: Gender, Class, and Black Community Development in the Urban South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Frederick Jackson Turner Prize from the Organization of American Historians for the best book in U. S. History written by a first time author. She is at work currently on several projects, including a monograph on African American women and migration, a book about the black life in the segregated south, an edited collection of interviews from the Behind the Veil Project, and a compilation of writing and speeches by Shirley Chisholm.
A nationally renowned teacher, Brown has been invited to teach content and methodology courses on slavery and emancipation, civil rights, and Jim Crow for junior high and high school teachers. Before coming to Williams in 2008, Brown taught a range of courses in race, gender, and documentary studies including American and African American history and studies; American, comparative, and African American women’s history and studies; and oral history at colleges and universities, including Duke University, Skidmore College, Washington University-St. Louis.
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