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Crystal R. Sanders

Crystal R. Sanders

Associate Professor of African American Studies and History

Director, Africana Research Center

311 Weaver Building
Office Phone: (814) 863-7303


Crystal R. Sanders is a historian of the 20th Century United States, with specializations in civil rights history, the history of Black education, and Black women’s history.  Professor Sanders received her bachelor’s degree in history and public policy from Duke University and her Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University. Her book, A Chance for Change: Head Start and Mississippi's Black Freedom Struggle (UNC Press 2016), explored how working-class black women in Mississippi transformed the Child Development Group of Mississippi (CDGM), a federal Head Start program, into an opportunity to secure political and economic self-determination.  CDGM was one of the largest inaugural Head Start programs in the country and proved to be the next wave of activism in the Magnolia State after the 1964 Freedom Summer.  Professor Sanders’s study of the Head Start program complicates the pervasive view that the War on Poverty was a failure. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Southern History, the North Carolina Historical Review, the Journal of African American History, and the History of Education Quarterly.  She is the recipient of several honors including a Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship, Spencer Foundation Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships, the Southern Historical Association’s C. Vann Woodward Prize, and the Organization of American Historian’s Huggins-Quarles Award.

Click here to view Dr. Sanders' CV.

Department of African American Studies, The Pennsylvania State University
133 Willard Building, University Park, PA 16802
Ph: 814-863-4243 | Fax: 814-863-3578 | Email: