All Negros Driven from Indiana Town read one 1920s newspaper headline in Arkansas.
Racial cleansings, like the one the 1920s headline demonstrated, are a part of American history Americans tend to forget. St. Bonaventure University students and the surrounding community will have the opportunity to learn about this on Oct. 29 in a presentation by Elliot Jaspin, a retired journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner. The presentation, titled “Separate Histories; How We Lie to Ourselves,” will be at 7 p.m. at Dresser Auditorium in the John J. Murphy Professional Building.
Lee Coppola, dean of the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Dr. Robert Amico, professor of philosophy, chose to bring Jaspin to St. Bonaventure because of his unique accomplishments in the field of journalism.
“I am most concerned about making sure that my students learn to use their journalism skills for the greater good of society,” said Coppola.
Amico hopes that students will learn about a hidden chapter in U.S. history when these racial cleansings took place across the country during the first part of the 20th century.
Jaspin will discuss the book he wrote last year titled “Buried in the Bitter Waters — The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America.” The University will show a PBS film on SBU-TV prior to his visit titled “Banished,” which is a documentary about the racial cleansings.
Jaspin’s interest in this part of history began in 1991 while working in the Washington Bureau of Cox Newspapers where he directed a computer-assisted reporting program.
Using this program, he discovered that between 1864 and 1923, white Americans engaged in numerous racial cleansings.
Jaspin’s knowledge of computer programming came from an earlier job when he worked at the Providence (R.I.) Journal-Bulletin. During an investigation of municipal corruption, Jaspin obtained an electronic copy of the city’s financial records. Realizing that computers made it easier to analyze large amounts of data, he decided that the future of journalism lay in understanding how to use the computer in the reporting process.
In 1989, Jaspin founded the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting at the University of Missouri, where journalists learn how to use the new equipment. He has trained journalists for hundreds of newspapers, most notably the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press.
Jaspin was born in Long Island, N.Y., and graduated from Colby College in Waterville, Maine.
In 1971, he won a Pulitzer Prize when he wrote a five-part series on Jimmy Hoffa, one of the most powerful and controversial union leaders of the 1960s and 1970s. Jaspin is now retired and lives in Annapolis, Md.
For more information, visit www.sbu.edu.