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  • Originally published 06/06/2013

    Jim Downs: The History of Mrs. Obama's Heckler, or Caught Between Civil Rights and a Hard Place

    Jim Downs is an associate professor of history and American Studies at Connecticut College, specializing in African-American studies and nineteenth-century American history. His book, Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction, was just published by Oxford University Press.On June 4, 2013, Ellen Sturtz, a gay rights activist, heckled first lady Michelle Obama at a meeting of the Democratic National Convention. Ms. Obama allegedly responded by saying that she would leave if the heckler did not stop. The audience, however, cajoled the first lady to stay and the gay rights activist was purportedly escorted out of the venue. Mrs. Obama continued her speech by talking about the future of children.