Civil Rights and Equality: A Pulitzer Prize Centennial Series
“Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” Series at Oklahoma City University, Fall 2016
Often when the term “civil rights” comes into conversations in the U.S., a specific, momentous movement comes to mind. Our collective imagination calls forth the black-and-white photojournalistic images of brave marchers under attack and the resonating voices of the leaders who led court cases and civil actions throughout the 1950s and‘60s. But the fundamental notion of civil rights has been built into the value systems of our culture from the beginning. The five Pulitzer Prize-nominated or-winning books in this series all work toward that same goal: trying to better help us understand our American context and our own unrealized ideals by immersing us in specific historic or contemporary moments, with fully realized individuals experiencing inequality. These five great reads include three different genres—fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—in an attempt to help us experience these lives in different “registers.” Do you want to rediscover the joys of experiencing our humanity and national identities? If these issues interest you, opportunity awaits. If you want to be active in this exploration, please join us for this “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” reading and discussion program. Books are available for those who converge with us actively and are present throughout the series so we can better understand who we are as a nation.
Oklahoma City University invites participants to make these books come alive in the readings of this five-part series. At each session, a Humanities scholar will make a 35-45 minute presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussion will follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, everyone will come together for a brief wrap-up. Anyone interested in participating by attending the sessions is encouraged to pre-register and borrow the reading selections by calling Tracy Floreani at 208-5707, emailing her at email@example.com, or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library, Room 211 or 207. (Note the offices are located in the five-story building southwest of Walker Center.) Information also at the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film & Literature’s website: http://www.okcufilmlit.org/
The series will be held in Walker Center, Room 151, on the Oklahoma City University campus from 7:00 to 9:00 PM on Tuesdays, beginning September 13 and continuing on alternate Tuesdays except for the last Tuesday session on November 1. Books, services, and other materials for this series of programs are provided by Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma, a project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council with funding from the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Initiative and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
READINGS AND DATES: Fall 2016
September 13, 2016 The Known World by Edward P. Jones
Jones’ well researched historical novel weaves together different time sequences and family histories as it follows the story of a former slave in early 19th-century Virginia who works to buy his own plantation and his own slaves. The engaging novel shakes up our assumptions about the antebellum world and raises important questions about ambition, power, identity, race, and property—and the consequences that come with the decisions made in regards to them. Dr. Tracy Floreani
September 27, 2016 Native Guard by Natasha Tretheway
One of the finest living poets in the U.S., Tretheway offers an accessible collection of related poems that explore her own childhood history in the South alongside an exploration of the history of the Louisiana “Native Guard,” an African American branch of the National Guard that served the state during the Civil War. Readers follow the poet’s own explorations of family histories and our larger shared histories as she processes a personal journey through lyrical language and rich images. Dr. Harbour Winn
October 11, 2016 The Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle
This work of engrossing nonfiction follows the story of a young African American doctor named Ossian Sweet, who sought to buy a house in a majority-white neighborhood in Michigan and was resisted by the existing residents. Boyle deftly explores the man’s personal history and the legal case that grew out of a hazy incident of violence, while linking it to larger issues of race and the national epidemic of racial violence in the period (like that in Tulsa in 1921). Dr. Lloyd Musselman
October 25, 2016 A Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
This novel takes the discussion of civil rights beyond the historically familiar black/white and explores the nuances of injustice and property rights related to Native Americans. Like all of her novels, Erdrich weaves together multiple perspectives and generational views in the North Dakota reservations, excavating the powerful ways that a shared multiethnic history ripples into our current lives and relationships. Dr. Karen Youmans
November 1, 2016 Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
The true story of a family who lives in the slums of Mumbai, India, takes the discussion of civil rights into an international context. The family’s home stands in sight of the city’s luxury hotels, raising important questions about income inequality and to what extent our participation in an increasingly global economy raises civil rights issues as we see the effects of these global processes on individuals in other places. Dr. Amrita Sen