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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Mike Greife
WARRENSBURG, MO (Feb. 11, 2011) -Delia Cook Gillis, professor of history and director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Central Missouri, will explore the life of Ollie Ollison, a Pullman porter during the heyday of American railroading, and the history of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids at the Kansas City Museum’s February Community Curator Lecture at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb, 22 at Union Station in Kansas City.
Through artifacts donated to the museum by Ollison, Gillis also will explore the Pullman porter’s life and the history of the Brotherhood, which was the first labor organization led by African Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor.
Gillis received a Ph.D. in History from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a Masters of Arts in History from the University of Central Missouri, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Management from the University of Maryland. She is the author of numerous scholarly publications, including a photographic history titled Kansas City from Arcadia Publishing's Black America Series. Her essays, articles, and reviews appear in The Public Historian, Public History Resource Center, Jackson County Historical Society Journal, and the Encyclopedia of African American Business.
Originally from Virginia, Gillis’ interest in the African American working class began with her father, a skilled brick mason and small business owner. Her historical knowledge of the subject was honed under the tutelage of African American business historian Robert Weems, Jr. and labor historian, Dave Roediger, at the University of Missouri. Her subsequent move to Kansas City in 1994 to join the faculty at UMKC provided her with the opportunity discover the vibrant history of the city’s African American community that she documents in her classroom teaching and scholarly research.
A world traveler, Delia lived in Germany for six years in the 1980s. She has traveled to 33 states and 12 countries including a six month stint as a UMAEP Visiting Exchange Scholar at the University of the Western Cape andNelson Mandela Metropolitan University, formerly the University of Port Elizabeth, in South Africa in 1996. In September 2004 she was a visiting scholar at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, as well as serving as a visiting scholar at the Maastricht Center for Trans-Atlantic Studies at Teikyo University in the Netherlands during summers 2003 and 2005.
Visit kansascitymuseum.org to RSVP for Gillis’ presentation.