Sept. 19, 2007
Award-winning author David Zang will speak on "Race Relations in Southeastern Ohio, 1860-1930: From Abolitionist Hope to Klan Fear" at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24, in Walter Hall 145.
The talk is the second in the Helen and Foster Cornwell Memorial Lecture series. Ohio University and the Athens County Historical Society and Museum are sponsoring the lecture.
Zang's Cornwell Lecture addresses the various cultural, societal and historical factors that led to a precipitous decline in racial empathy and understanding during the latter part of the 19th century and early decades of the 20th century in Southeast Ohio and across the nation.
Zang is the author of "Fleet Walker's Divided Heart: The Life of Baseball's First Black Major Leaguer." The book, winner of the inaugural Seymour Medal for excellence in historical reporting on baseball, chronicles the life of Steubenville, Ohio, native Moses Fleetwood Walker, the first African-American to play major league baseball, 63 years before Jackie Robinson.
The story of Walker, who played for the 1884 Toledo, Ohio, franchise, was a sad microcosm of American society in the post-Civil War era, when racial discrimination became increasingly accepted as the norm on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, including in eastern Ohio.
"The eastern Ohio area, whose population of former slaves and vigorous participation in the Underground Railroad had once made it a progressive outpost of race relations, now strained under the legacy of tolerance, which did not mesh well with the national inclination to regard separation as inevitable," Zang said.