Pulitzer Prize Author Visits SUNY Oswego


Douglas A. Blackmon (Dan North)

OSWEGO, N.Y. –  Douglas A. Blackmon is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Slavery by Another Name.


Slavery By Another Name
One photo that is displayed on the cover of Blackmon’s book (PBS)

Blackmon visited SUNY Oswego in honor of the college’s focus on Black History Month and also the semester-long Race, Place, Being series. The series features performances, speakers, film-screenings and other activities that focus on race and identity.

 Race Place Being
SUNY Oswego’s Race, Place, Being series (SUNY Oswego)





Blackmon is not just the author of his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, but he also co-produced the documentary by the same name on PBS.

“An African-American man couldn’t not break the law, for things like speaking too loud.”- Douglas A. Blackmon 

Douglas A. Blackmon’s Film

The prestigious author had set the stage for his discussion with the PBS screening of Slavery by Another Name the night before the main event. The film describes how 1863’s Emancipation Proclamation did not exactly abolish slavery as it had intended to.

The screening tells many different stories and goes in-depth when describing the forced labor that was taking place in the American South.

Blackmon’s book and film describes the lack of federal government involvement as southern states such as Florida and Georgia, among many others, were using African-Americans for labor work and arresting these people for unjustified reasons.

This is something that was happening even after the Civil War.

Marissa Sarbak, a Director for this event makes a comment on the film and its impact

Like Sarbak stated in the audio clip above, it was clear that many students were impacted by the shocking information Blackmon shared with the audience.

Racism During the 1970s and Beyond

During the event, Blackmon discussed his childhood in Mississippi and described what it was like during his high school years.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMZ42UxRusY]

Blackmon discussing segregation during the 1970s and 1980s

His comments really hit home with many people throughout the United States and the recognition of this is clear to see with the praise of his award-winning book.

“My high-school graduated in 1982 and that was the first class, in many places in Mississippi, in which black kids and white kids had begun the first grade together and gone all the way to the 12th grade.”- Douglas A. Blackmon

The Q&A session of the event was filled with back and forth conversation between students and members of the Oswego County community.

Something that many of the audience members had on their minds during this time was how long will it take until we no longer see racism in this country.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jNwXqPJH8U]

Blackmon discussing where the U.S. stands with racism

It’s clear to see from Blackmon’s comments that the United States is far away from abolishing racism.

But with the help of people like this man striving towards equality and making America’s past mistakes exposed, it’s easier to understand what exactly happened after the Civil War and how we can improve our country.

Blackmon accepting Oswego’s “Black History Month” Award  (Dan North)