It’s been a busy year for Dr. Stephanie Rolph, associate professor of history at Millsaps College.
Last June, Rolph’s book “Resisting Equality: The Citizens’ Council, 1954-1989” was published to stellar reviews. Since then, as the book has garnered attention for its detailed research into the Citizens’ Council movement in Mississippi, Rolph has earned further recognition for her scholarship.
In January 2019, Rolph was named a recipient of the Humanities Teacher of the Year Award for Millsaps by the Mississippi Humanities Council. As part of the recognition with this award, Rolph presented a lecture on the Millsaps campus in February titled “I’m Here to Tell You Why Those White Supremacists Matter (or Things I Never Thought My Humanities Training Would Prepare Me to Say in Public).” The lecture explored the work behind her book, as well as how the humanities have impacted her research, her evaluation of current events, and ways in which the humanities should enlighten the current generation of undergraduate students.
“Over the course of this book project and as a witness to developing events in our own political moment, it has become obvious to me that our work as historians must always be vetted in conversation with the public,” said Rolph. “My responsibilities to my students include getting them out of the classroom and into conversations with my colleagues outside of the academy. I have to hold myself to that same learning experience.”
Rolph will be recognized again by the Mississippi Humanities Council in a ceremony at the Old Capitol Museum on April 5, when she will receive the Humanities Scholar Award for 2019.
In his letter to Rolph notifying her of the award, Dr. Stuart Rockoff, executive director of the Mississippi Humanities Council, cited Rolph’s commitment to the public humanities.
“Your groundbreaking scholarly work about the history and evolution of the White Citizens’ Council, matched by your tireless efforts to share you work with the general public represent the highest ideal of the public humanities,” Rockoff wrote. “Your innovative teaching has engaged your students in public history as well, inspiring them to reach beyond the gates of Millsaps College to engage the larger community.”
And the recognition of her work doesn’t end with the Mississippi Humanities Council.
Rolph has also been recognized by the Mississippi Historical Society with the McLemore Prize, an honor bestowed on the most distinguished scholarly book on Mississippi history or biography published in the previous year.
“A recognition by both the Mississippi Historical Society—an organization committed to engaging professional historians and history lovers alike—and the Mississippi Humanities Council—an organization that is fully pledged to make scholarship public and accessible—is an affirmation that what historians do matters,” Rolph said. “But the reciprocal charge that I accept as part of that affirmation is to seek out communities outside of the classroom and the academic conference where I can participate in dialogue—as one citizen among many, each with a stake in listening, learning, and transforming.”