The Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age
by Kevin Boyle
The Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma book discussion series at Oklahoma City University continues with The Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 in OCU’s Walker Center Room 151.
The discussion series is titled “Civil Rights and Equality: A Pulitzer Prize Centennial Series” and is made possible through a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the Pulitzer Foundation’s Centennial Campfire Initiative.
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. Kevin Boyle, an excellent researcher, writes like a novelist and tells a compelling story of some of our more shameful cultural impulses. He deftly intertwines one man’s personal history (and the legal case that grew out of a hazy incident of violence) with larger issues of race and the national epidemic of racial violence in the period, like the 1921 incident in Tulsa.
Sweet’s own story follows that of many young, ambitious African Americans who were engaged in the project of “racial uplift” in the early twentieth century, as he worked his way from the rural south to the urban north, through formal education and new opportunities. Unfortunately, the story includes the backlash against such ambition, as it was felt in his life and all over communities where African Americans were attempting to. However, the story ends with hope and an account of the new activism that created protections against such civil discrimination.
At each session in the five-part series, a humanities scholar makes a presentation on the book in the context of the theme. For this book, our speaker will be historian Dr. Lloyd Musselman. Small group discussions follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, all participants come together for a brief wrap-up.
While all books to loan in this series have been checked out, members of the Oklahoma City-area community are welcome to bring their own copies of the book and join the conversation.
For more information call 405-208-5707, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
* Oct. 25, A Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
* Nov. 1, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo