Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

A woman of action: Elma Lewis, the arts, and the politics of culture in Boston, 1950--1986

Daniel N McClure, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This project examines the politics of education, culture and black community formation in Roxbury, MA during the postwar era. Elma Lewis was active in Boston’s black community for more than half a century and through her work as educator, cultural worker and institution builder helped shape the spatial and ideological contours of Boston’s black community throughout the postwar period. Her early commitment to institution building supported the development of cultural networks that facilitated the large-scale organization and mobilization of Boston’s black residents during the 1960s and 1970s in the struggle for educational equality. She founded a school, a national arts organization and a museum, each of which fostered the emergent sense of black community culminating in calls for community control, black power and cultural pride during the later period. She was a bridge activist who established and developed cultural institutions that helped transcend social, ideological and generational divisions within Boston’s black community. ^

Subject Area

Biographies|American studies|Black studies|American history|Education history

Recommended Citation

McClure, Daniel N, "A woman of action: Elma Lewis, the arts, and the politics of culture in Boston, 1950--1986" (2009). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3359905.