August 4th, 20114:10 pm @




In 1994, Stephen Tuck, fresh out of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, drove into the heart of America’s South, in search of the roots of American racial conflict.  He is now a popular Pembroke History Fellow specializing in U.S. History.


“As an undergraduate, I thought I ought to know something about the world’s only superpower, and found the civil rights movement especially interesting,” he says. “I did my undergraduate thesis on the civil rights movement in Savannah, which led on to the doctorate.”


Research for the doctorate in rural Georgia was a challenge for the young man who grew up in Wolverhampton, near Birmingham, England.  It involved, among other things, living for six weeks on the floor of a mobile home (shared with a cat), driving a $1.00 jalopy, interviewing more than 200 people, including Martin Luther King’s widow and the former head of the Ku Klux Klan, and learning the subtleties of American baseball.


In the end, he succeeded in winning the confidence of the people who would supply the material for his prize-winning book, Beyond Atlanta – the Struggle for Racial Equality in Georgia 1940-1980, a sweeping history of the civil rights movement in the South’s largest state.


Since his election to a History Fellowship at Pembroke two years ago, Stephen has assumed wide ranging responsibilities at the Oxford History Faculty, which is now the largest faculty studying American History outside of the United States.  Stephen also looks after the History finalists at Pembroke and runs the Princeton/Oxford Exchange (a one-year undergraduate student exchange program between the two universities).  He is currently working on his next book, The History of Racial Equality in America from 1863.


Stephen is married to Katie Tuck and is the father or two children, with a third “on the way.”


Stephen remains concerned about the racial divide in America.  “Racial inequality did not end with the civil rights movement and the struggle continues and is contested in very many ways,” he says.


“Readers of this newsletter will have a range of opinions on the merits of affirmative action, for example. This year’s presidential election tells many things, but the fact that once again over 90% of black Americans voted for one party and over 70% of white men voted for the other is clear enough evidence of a racial divide that surely cannot be good for America in the long run.”