Civil Rights and Equality: 'Arc of Justice' by Kevin Boyle

Hosted by Oklahoma Humanities and Oklahoma City University
Kevin Boyle
Kevin Boyle (YouTube)

The current moment in our culture requires that we look hard at our ideals and history and the extent to which we have — and have not — ensured the enactment and protection of civil rights within our society.

On October 11, Lloyd Musselman, Ph.D. will present on The Arc of Justice 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. 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 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 integrate into a less segregated set of professional and residential options. However, the story ends with hope and an account of the new activism that created protections against such civil discrimination.

More in this series:

Sept. 13, 7 p.m.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Presenter: Tracy Floreani, Ph.D.

Sept. 27, 7 p.m.

Native Guard by Natasha Tretheway

Presenter: Harbour Winn, Ph.D.

Oct. 25, 7 p.m.

A Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich

Presenter: Karen Youmans, Ph.D.

Nov. 1, 7 p.m.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Presenter: Amrita Sen, Ph.D.