Carnegie Mellon University
March 20, 2023

Browder Presents Margaret Morrison Distinguished Lecture

Talk will focus on Black people's ongoing struggles to access safe medical care

By Stacy Kish

Michelle Browder, the founder and director of “I AM MORE THAN... Youth Empowerment Initiative” in Montgomery, Alabama, uses art, history and “real talk” conversations to fight for social justice within and beyond her community. She will speak at Carnegie Mellon University’s 17th annual Margaret Morrison Distinguished Lecture in Women’s History

Browder’s talk “Mothers of Gynecology: A Conversation with Artist and Activist Michelle Browder” will take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, in CMU’s Giant Eagle Auditorium in Baker Hall. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will welcome guests at 4:30 p.m.

“Black women's maternal mortality rate is four times that of white women, even when adjusted for income and education,” said Lisa Tetrault, associate professor of history and lead organizer of the Margaret Morrison Distinguished Lecture Series. “Browder's art is tangible, visceral and experiential, bringing these important political issues to life in ways that textual news stories often cannot.” 

Browder uses her art and activism to draw attention to the poor and enslaved women whom James Marion Sims, the self-appointed and celebrated father of modern gynecology, experimented on to develop his surgical techniques. 

Browder decided to change the narrative and developed a powerful campaign to revive the stories of the women upon whom Sims experimented through highly publicized artwork. Most recently, Browder purchased Sims's old hospital in Montgomery, Alabama, to create a training facility for Black midwives and to continue her educational mission to center Black people's ongoing struggles to access safe medical care that their bodies and labor helped pioneer.  

Browder’s work has been shown nationally and featured in outlets such as the Smithsonian Magazine, National Public Radio, People Magazine and the Washington Post.

The Margaret Morrison Distinguished Lecture in Women’s History is sponsored by the Department of History in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The lecture series is named for Margaret Morrison Carnegie, the mother of Andrew Carnegie, who founded Carnegie Mellon under the name Carnegie Institute of Technology. The institute was home to four schools, including Margaret Morrison Carnegie College, a women’s college that closed in 1973, where CMU’s History Department was originally located.