Book excerpt available today

The book news will be coming hot and heavy for the next month or two, so I’ll keep this short. The D&C today published another excerpt from my book, this one having to do with the failed attempt at instituting a desegregation plan in the 1971-72 school year. If you’re not familiar with that episode, I think you may be shocked to read about it.

Link: “50 years ago Rochester tried an experiment with desegregation. It lasted less than two months.”

That story also features a 20-minute film from my extremely talented colleague Rob Bell. He used interviews with some participants in that school year along with some great archival footage. It’s worth the time to check it out.

Last, I also wrote a column describing how the Gannett papers in Rochester covered the desegregation issue during the 1960s and ’70s. My conclusion: Both the morning Democrat and Chronicle and the afternoon Times-Union did good work in certain cases. Gannett won a special Pulitzer Prize citation in 1964 for a nationwide series called “The Road to Integration,” spearheaded in Rochester. When it came to day-to-day coverage and editorial writing, though, the approach in both newspapers clearly was rooted in the community’s socially conservative nature. For that reason, the journalists failed in their duty to inform the public.

Once again, I have to thank the current D&C leadership for allowing me such free rein in this project, and also for being willing to examine the paper’s own role in our troubled local history. Executive Editor Mike Kilian, as well as investigative editor Matthew Leonard, have both been great supporters.

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