Thursday, May 29, 2008
Interview with Archey Biographer
John Beineke is dean of the College of Education and a professor of educational leadership and curriculum and also professor of history at Arkansas State University. Here he answers questions about his new book Going over All the Hurdles: A Life of Oatess Archey.
What prompted you to write a biography of Oatess Archey?
I first thought it a very good story about the courage and tenacity of an individual. I also believed it would be an excellent vehicle for a young adult book and a way to write about how our national history played itself out in the life of an individual from Indiana. Finally, Mr. Archey was my teacher, coach, and role model. In a way this book was a very personal experience for me.
Is there anything that surprised you in doing your research for the book?
An author always hopes that the pieces will come together to make the story complete. This occurred several times with my research and writing of this book. Episodes such as the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Educationcase were mirrored in Marion, Indiana, with the swimming pool integration issue in the same year or the experiences in the 1950's of Oscar Robertson in Indianapolis and Oatess Archey in Marion. Also, how the 1930 lynching that involved the Grant County Sheriff came full circle when Mr. Archey became the sheriff himself sixty-five years later.
What lessons, if any, would you like for readers of the book to take away with them?
From the title Going over All the Hurdles I would want readers to realize that while we all have "hurdles" in our lives, some of these hurdles can be overcome by facing them as Oatess Archey did. We all realize that there are some barriers that cannot be overcome. And yet there are those, like Mr. Archey, who have been confronted with challenges, but succeeded. I would want readers to find hope in this book.
What ties do you still have with Marion, Indiana?
I keep in contact with Bill Munn, Marion High School history teacher and recently appointed Grant County Historian. While at the Kellogg Foundation I was able to fund a Community History Project under Bill's direction which continues on a decade later in Marion. I still have friends in the city and this project on Mr. Archey took me back to Marion for research and interviews.
Is there another project you are currently working on?
I am currently working on two manuscripts. One is on the educational cartoons of the late Washington Post cartoonist and Pulitzer Prize
winner Herbert Block (Herblock). I am able to combine my love of
history with my work in teacher education. The other project I am working on is a young adult biography of the World War I Canadian poet John MacRae who wrote "In Flanders Fields." MacRae is a distant relative on my mother's side of the family.