Professor explores civil rights history

TEMP ORARY October 27, 2011 0

“Greatness is more than a matter of following society and doing what the majority tells you to do.” After sitting down with Dr. Michael Long, this was one of the many pieces of advice taken away from our conversation that is not only helpful, but incredibly true. Over the course of his career, Long has been considered a very successful writer and published author, among many other achievements.

Long has published nine books and is currently wrapping up contracts to publish two more. These books, “Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson on Life after Baseball” and “I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters,” reflect Long’s primary focuses of writing about subjects such as religion, politics, peace and conflict studies, civil rights and Martin Luther King, Jr.

His first book, “Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson on Life after Baseball,” is described by Long as “Jackie Robinson’s views on sports and family during his post-baseball career time.” This book also shows the mature side of Robinson and sheds light on the civil rights movement as well as the violence taking place during that time.

Long’s second book to be released, “I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters,” is different than the Robinson piece. It is a collection of letters by Rustin, an African-American socialist and pacifist. The book details his role in the 1963 March on Washington. Long secured Rustin’s letters, which are available in the Library of Congress, and edited them for release to the public. “Not everyone has access to such wonderful pieces such as these, so to be able to put these primary documents in people’s hands can be considered a luxury to many people,” Long explained.

Long is no stranger to the publishing world, as he has already written and published nine books on many subjects related to his discipline. “I am always pleased to find a publisher who is interested in something that I am passionate about. I feel privileged to know that these types of books are something editors are willing to read, even though they may be viewed by others as being of narrow interest,” Long said.

Long explained that he was first inspired to write by his 11th grade English teacher. “She told me that I was the most improved writer that year. Those four words just clicked for me, and they encouraged me to improve my writing even more and to continue to write,” Long said. “I want to take that kind of encouragement and give it right back to my students when they do well in a class I am teaching.”

Sophomore Travis Gerstacker took a class with Long and explained that he feels very confident in not only Long’s teaching ability, but his ability to give students the confidence and reassurance they need. “He is a very intelligent professor who is very passionate about the material he teaches. He conducts interesting class discussions, and every class is different. I am not surprised in the least bit by his success,” Gerstacker explained.

Senior Andrea Raffensperger, who also took one of Long’s courses, agreed, saying, “I loved his class, and he was always able to keep me engaged.” It is clear that both Long’s readers and students agree that he can truly hold an audience no matter the medium he uses to convey information. When asked what advice he would give to aspiring writers, Long explained that reading journalism, particularly material written by someone who would be considered a “good writer,” is a good place to start the writing process.

Being able to develop a discipline that you want to write about can prove extremely helpful in the long run. “Writing and the process should be like a habit, much like eating or working out. Being able to write just as we would normally go through our day can prove to be both rewarding and fruitful,” Long said.

As for future plans on his writing career, Long noted that he simply wants to create and write pieces which would make his sons proud. He wants to instill the idea that leading a creative life will yield a just and peaceful world in both his sons and his readers.

In terms of future books, Long is looking into the idea of possibly writing a biography of someone who is currently missing in his field, to give readers insight into another influential figure in history. Overall, despite not considering himself a “successful” writer, but instead more of a privileged one, it is safe to say that readers and students alike can expect great things from Long.

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