How an old white guy got woke

From a new piece published this month in Indianapolis Monthly:

Five years ago, a man called me and began with an apology. “I’m sure you get too many of these,” he said. “But I have to call you because I am writing a book on the Emmett Till murder trial, and you are the only one who was at the trial and is still alive.”

That has become my distinction.

The Supreme Court had outlawed school segregation in its 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education, ruling that “separate but equal” education was not valid and no longer the law of the land. Everyone knew this was a major decision that would have a huge impact on American life. There was a feeling of national apprehension. What would happen? Would the South revolt? Would it be the start of another Civil War? It felt like the country was holding its breath.

Continue reading the longform piece at Indianapolis Monthly


4 Responses to How an old white guy got woke

  1. Norbert Krapf June 7, 2019 at 1:45 pm #

    Thanks for this excellent article. Appreciate your honesty in telling this Indy story from the inside.

  2. July 25, 2019 at 9:24 am #

    Really great read. Dan Wakefield is a great writer – even when he was discussing subjects I was less invested in, I was compelled to read carefully due to his prose. The sections on McCarthy era, jazz during the and abortion were pretty eye-opening and a great reminder of how far we’ve come. Strong rec for anyone interested in this period.

  3. Kent Sterling March 25, 2020 at 6:26 pm #

    Love that you are continuing to learn and encourage us to continue learning. So sad about your friendship with James Baldwin.

  4. Gerald Arnold April 23, 2020 at 10:51 am #

    Our NAACP Branch Evansville, Indiana is interested in bringing Dr. Wakefield to be the speaker at our Freedom Fund Banquet in October 2020. Or at time that works for him.

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Dan Wakefield

Dan Wakefield

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