Participant Info

First Name
Rachel Louise
Last Name
Freelance writer and researcher
Website URL
Civil rights, educational inequality, oral history, women's and gender history, Southern history, Appalachian history, Tennessee history, Nashville history, Southern foodways, memory theory
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am an author, historian and educator with a Ph.D. in women’s and gender history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. My publication credits include O Magazine, Oxford AmericanThe Atlantic onlineCityLabBitter Southerner and Narratively. I collected and curated the interviews for Making Eyes on the Prize: An Oral History, The Ford Foundation.

I focus on the politics of memory, or how we remember and how we choose to forget the past. In “How Hot Chicken Really Happened,” I used the sudden popularity of hot chicken in white Nashville to explore the history of race, development and gentrification in the city. It was included in Cornbread Nation 2015: The Best of Southern Food Writing.

My current book project is on school desegregation. It’s been sixty years since the Supreme Court ended school segregation, but America’s schools are more segregated today than they were in 1968. Racism and inequality are woven too deeply into American society to be excised by a court order or dismantled by an act of Congress. Over the last few years, a new civil rights movement has arisen. Rooted in the first Obama campaign and Occupy Wall Street, it has been spurred on by calls for prison reform and internet videos of police violence. Though it is the latest offensive in a battle stretching across decades and centuries, it is a twenty-first century movement, coalesced around a hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter.

While I watched, and at times participated in, the new movement, I was researching the desegregation of Clinton High, one of the first tests of Brown versus Board of Education. I soon realized that unless we change how we talk about history—creating a newer, messier, more inclusive story of our past—future generations will refight the same battles we are waging (again) today.

Recent Publications

Let Me Tell You About Coal Creek, Oxford American

Cherisse Scott: The Sex-Ed Evangelist, O Magazine

Some People Stay, Oxford American

How Hot Chicken Really Happened, The Bitter Southerner

Making Eyes on the Prize: An Oral History, The Ford Foundation

When You’re the Last Remaining Member of a Failed Utopia, Catapult

Salvaging Education in Rural America, The Atlantic Online

Chasing Nashville’s Ghosts, Narratively

The Utopian Colony Around Tennessee’s Oldest Library, Catapult

The Clinton 12, US of America

Walking in Nashville, CityLab

The Brave and Tragic Trail of Reverend Turner, Narratively

Media Coverage
Buzzfeed; KCRW’s Good Food; BBC’s Food Chain; the Michelle Meow Show
Country Focus
United States of America
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
8, 9
Expertise by Topic
Family, Gender, Public History, Race, Sexuality, Sexual Violence, Slavery, Women