Kenneth Osgood, associate professor and director of the McBride Honors Program, recently published a collection of essays that explores the history of civil rights policies in the post–civil rights era. The book, “Winning While Losing: Civil Rights, the Conservative Movement and the Presidency from Nixon to Obama,” co-edited by Derrick E. White, associate professor of history at Florida Atlantic University, addresses the common perception that the civil rights movement ended in triumph a half century ago. Osgood wants to challenge that notion.
“When Obama was elected, everyone was ecstatic. But half of the prison population was black; poverty rates for African Americans were double those of whites,” Osgood said.
This summer, Americans will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, which ended segregation. “No doubt many Americans will describe Obama’s historic presidency as the ultimate victory,” Osgood notes. “But the reality is much messier. During the previous half-century, there were successes in some areas, but set-backs in others.”
Osgood hopes his readers walk away with the picture that civil rights politics can be more complicated than originally understood.
“Everything we think we know about the past is oversimplified and distorted,” Osgood said. “To me that’s what I love about the study of history. We develop these really simple pictures, but when we really look at it, we find out how wrong we are. Almost everything we remember, we remember badly, simplistically, or incorrectly. So I hope people will read this and think: that’s not quite how I thought it was.”
Osgood is currently working on his sixth book, “The Biggest Lie,” which connects propaganda and intelligence. The book will be published around 2016.
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu