|Born||Mabelle Massey Segrest
February 20, 1949
|Alma mater||Duke University (PhD)|
|Known for||Memoir of a Race Traitor|
Mab (Mabelle Massey) Segrest (born February 20, 1949) is an American feminist writer and activist. Mab Segrest is best known for her 1994 autobiographical work Memoir of a Race Traitor.
In the 1970s, Segrest moved to North Carolina to attend Duke University, where she earned her PhD in English literature in 1979. While studying at Duke, and for several years thereafter, she taught English at nearby Campbell University. Since 2002, Segrest has worked at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. In 2004, Segrest was appointed the Fuller-Matthai Professor of Gender & Women's Studies there. Currently she is on sabbatical and has a fellowship at Emory to research a book or series of books about the Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia.
Segrest has founded, served on the boards of, and consulted with a wide range of social justice organizations throughout her life. Segrest is recognized for speaking and writing about sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, and other forms of oppression. After Feminary disbanded, she worked for six years (1983–1990) with North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence (NCARRV). During that time, she is credited by many for single-handedly ridding North Carolina of the Ku Klux Klan (Powell 102). She earned her livelihood from 1992–2000 as Coordinator of the Urban-Rural Mission (USA), part of the URM network of the World Council of Churches. After working full time with various political organizations, Segrest returned to academia.
Until it disbanded in 1983, Segrest worked in the southern feminist writing collective Feminary working to produce the journal of the same name. Feminarians, including Segrest, saw writing as a force for political change. Feminary was a Southern feminist journal that had a Southern focus and was anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and anti-classist. It was a unique contribution to women's history. Through the collective and other activist work, Segrest generated material for her first book of essays, Segrest's My Mama's Dead Squirrel. Her book narrating her experience working against the Klan with NCARRV is Memoir of a Race Traitor, published in 1995. It was named an Outstanding Book on Human Rights in North America and was Editor's Choice for the Lambda Literary Awards. Memoirs of a Race Traitor has been hailed by Howard Zinn as “extraordinary . . . It is a ‘political memoir,’ but its language is poetic and its tone passionate” (“Mab Segrest”). It is considered a key text in white studies and anti-racist studies. In this work, Segrest outlines her definition of “queer socialism,” which is how she defines her political stance. This version of socialism demands a more caring world where all citizens are taken into consideration when resources are allocated and opportunities are dispensed. She says that while there is no blueprint as yet for this form of socialism, it would be based in feminist theory and practice.
Segrest's latest book, Born to Belonging: Writings on Spirit and Justice was published in 2002 and recounts her experiences around the world. In 2003 Segrest co-edited Sing, Whisper, Shout, Pray: Feminist Strategies for a Just World with Jacqui Alexander, Lisa Albrect and Sharon Day.
In popular culture
In a nod to her efforts on women's social issues, the rock band Le Tigre mentions Prof. Segrest's name in their song "Hot Topic, which lists people the band consider to have played an important role in discussing under-represented 'hot topics'."
- Thompson, Becky W (2001). A promise and a way of life: white antiracist activism. University of Minnesota Press. p. 434. ISBN 0-8166-3634-6.
- Powell 100–101
- "Mab Segrest." Speak Out! Speakers, Artists, Exhibits and Films. Biography and Booking Information. Oakland, California. http://www.speakoutnow.org/userdata_display.php?modin=50&uid=195
- Powell, Tamara. "Look What Happened Here: North Carolina's Feminary Collective." North Carolina Literary Review 9 (2000): 91–102.
- Segrest, Mab. My Mama's Dead Squirrel. 1985.
- – - – . Memoirs of a Race Traitor. 1994.
- – - – . Born to Belonging: Writings on Spirit and Justice. 2002.