Gary May. Credit: Dale Robbins.
Photo: Alton Christensen

Gary May


Gary May is a professor of history at the University of Delaware who specializes in American political and diplomatic history from 1945 onward. His recent work on the Voting Rights Act is a history of how the Act originated, its impact on American democracy, and a case for its preservation as an instrument to fight modern voter suppression movements.

In 1985, May worked with the Public Citizen Litigation Group to force the government to declassify secret grand jury records pertaining to the 1950 indictment of William Remington for perjury. After a lengthy court struggle, U.S. District Court Judge Whitman Knapp sided with the group and ordered that the records be unsealed, which established a precedent that later historians would use to win access to grand jury records in cases including those of Alger Hiss, and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

A member of the Harvard-based Scholars Strategy Network, May is the author of five books, including The Informant: The FBI, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Murder of Viola Liuzzo, and most recently, Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy. Published in April 2013, Bending Toward Justice recounts the long and bloody struggle of African Americans to gain the right to vote, as well as the political battle in Washington to enact the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Winner of the Allan Nevins Prize of the Society of American Historians, May received his Ph.D. from U.C.L.A. in 1974. He lives in Newark, Delaware.