Andy Duncan, a faculty member in the Frostburg State University Department of English, will present “Blinded in Batesburg: Learning of a Hometown Atrocity” at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13, in the Atkinson Room of the Lane University Center, as part of the campus Faculty Lecture Series. The event is free and open to the public.
On Feb. 13, 1946, an African-American World War II veteran named Isaac Woodard Jr. was pulled off a Greyhound bus in Batesburg, S.C., only hours after his honorable discharge, and was beaten by the local police chief, Lynwood Shull. As a result of his injuries, Woodard was blinded for life. The incident became a national scandal and a landmark federal civil rights case.
Duncan, a Batesburg native, was never told of this incident by his family, even though Shull was a family friend, as was the local doctor who first examined Woodard after the beating. It was not until Duncan was nearly 40 that he read about the incident in the Library of America Anthology Reporting Civil Rights. Duncan realized that his sleepy, obscure hometown had been, for a time, nationally infamous, denounced on the radio by Orson Welles, in songs by Woody Guthrie and in the Oval Office by Harry Truman. The incident so angered Truman that it influenced his eventual presidential decision to end racial segregation in the U.S. military.
In this lecture series, which will be held on the 66th anniversary of the beating as well as in honor of Black History Month, Duncan will discuss the facts of the Woodard case; its ramifications in politics, law and popular cultures; its effects on his family, his upbringing and his career; and how it continues to influence what he does in the classroom today. An audience discussion will follow.
Duncan, an assistant professor, teaches writing classes at FSU, including journalism, fiction and advanced composition. He has been a journalist for 30 years — since his freshman year of college — both writing and editing, in feature news, for newspapers and magazines, in print and online. He has been a published fiction writer for 15 years, earning two World Fantasy Awards and a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.
For more information, contact Andy Duncan at email@example.com or 301-687-4241.
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