Sutton's work honored in McNair Symposium

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Sutton's work honored in McNair Symposium

July 30, 2013, G. Ritter


Jazma Sutton, a junior from Romeoville and current McNair Scholar, recently presented her research on slavery and motherhood at the 2013 McNair Scholars Summer Research Symposium.

According to Jazma, the project titled “Transcending the Fire: Motherhood and Enslaved African American Women, 1840-1865,” stemmed from a trend she had noticed throughout her college career thus far – the disparity that the impact of slavery in the South on African American mothers was rarely addressed or merely glossed over in much of her readings about the period. A double-major in Africana Studies and History, this theme seemed a natural fit for Jazma’s 8-week research project, which earned her second place in the competition.

While she knew it would be hard work to find the resources she was seeking within the time constraints of the project, Jazma said she did manage to find small pieces of information here and there that shed insights she hadn’t encountered in any classroom readings before.

Yet while most of her research led her to a broader grasp of the realities faced by nameless, faceless African American women of the period, one morsel of history presented itself that left Jazma with a far more gripping impression of these women than any of her work up to that point: a long, lost photograph of a mother enduring the life of slavery while rearing her children -- one of whom was Jazma’s own great grandmother.

While Jazma has bigger plans for research projects in the future within the disciplines of Africana Studies and History, she will never forget the serendipitous summer research project that led her back to a very real, very tangible anchor in her own personal heritage, as well as a now-cherished heirloom and story (the photograph of her paternal great, great grandmother) that she never in her life expected to encounter.

Jazma’s mentor for the McNair program is Pamela Smoot, Director of Recruitment, Retention and Outreach for the College of Liberal Arts.

For more information about the Summer Research Symposium and McNair Scholars Program, you can read the Saluki Times article here or visit the McNair Scholars website here.