Fight the Power

by Leon Litwack, Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of History Emeritus at UC Berkeley

The inaugural Tuttle Lecture was delivered by the eminent historian Leon Litwack (Cal Berkeley) on Monday, March 10, 2008, at the Dole Institute of Politics in honor of Bill Tuttle on the occasion of his retirement from American Studies and the University of Kansas.

Those present at the lecture especially enjoyed Professor Litwack's opening remarks, which offered a view of Bill's long and storied career that began with his years as a graduate student and that highlighted not only his academic achievements but also his irreverent sense of justice and spirit of fun. Our ability to attract a figure as distinguished as Leon Litwack to travel to KU and speak in honor of Bill wass itself an indication of Bill's academic accomplishments and many deep and longstanding friendships.

Nearly three hundred people joined us to celebrate the opening of Tuttlefest at Liberty Hall on Saturday, March 8, 2008, which includedthe unforgettable strip-tease act of Emeritus Professor Norm Yetman and, thanks to Little Rachel and the Fabulous Rhythm Busters, a completely full dance floor. Along with the initial lecture, this event was unique in bringing together nearly everyone on campus interested in African American history and culture.

Although American Studies and African and African American Studies provide academic homes for African American studies at KU, it took Tuttlefest to create an occasion to bring generations of American Studies scholars together with one another, with overlapping groups of interdisciplinary scholars, and with others who have contributed to life campus and in the community. In tribute to Bill, Tuttlefest brought together uniquely more diverse corners of Lawrence than we have seen in a long time, perhaps since the famous 1987 River City Reunion. The uniqueness of this gathering has had an enduring impact in Lawrence and at the University of Kansas.

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