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Author helps students fact check

September 29, 2016

Isabela Palmieri
Staff Reporter | ipa001@latech.edu

The Louisiana Tech history department brought in Jason Morgan Ward, author of “Hanging Bridge: Racial Violence and America’s Civil Rights Century,” to speak about fact vs. fiction. Photo by Ashley Kober.

The Louisiana Tech history department brought in Jason Morgan Ward, author of “Hanging Bridge: Racial Violence and America’s Civil Rights Century,” to speak about fact vs. fiction. Photo by Ashley Kober.

 

 

Discerning factually correct information from made-up jargon is a subject on which Jason Morgan Ward has expert experience.

 

On Sept. 22, the Louisiana Tech history department welcomed Ward, author of “Hanging Bridge: Racial Violence and America’s Civil Rights Century,” at the Lincoln Parish Library to speak to students and any interested guests about his encounters with fact versus fiction.

 

Ward specializes in the history of civil rights and racial politics in the American South. He earned his doctorate degree at Yale University and is an associate professor of history at Mississippi State University. Ward spoke mostly about his experiences while writing his book and how he discerned between reliable or unreliable sources.

 

“Students, especially those who are interested in history, kind of got an inside view of how you make hard choices about your research,” Ward said. “When you start with an interview or a world history search, you have to resist the urge to believe everything they say, but you also have to resist the urge to think that there is no way you can prove it, that there is no way you can make that credible.”

 

Madalyn Bell, a sophomore political science major, said it is important that the history department continue to give students the opportunity to learn from experts.

 

“I think it is good for students to be exposed to things that otherwise they wouldn’t have been, like different people across the United States and people who obviously know more than we know about these topics,” Bell said.

 

David Anderson, associate professor of history, said the talk showed students the reality of writing a book and the extensive research it requires.

 

“He didn’t give us the plot of the book, but he told us one episode in the middle and how he researched and how he judged whether the evidence he had was proof,” Anderson said. “So I hope they saw a little glimpse of the process a historian has to go through to decide if something is true or not.”

 

Anderson said Ward showed students the skills they need to execute the kind of research that goes into writing a book.

 

“When the authors talk about writing, I hope the students get a sense of the work that goes into it,” Anderson said. “And it’s work that you begin to learn when you are in college.”

 

Anderson said he finds it beneficial for the student body to meet authors in person and to hear their stories, experiences and advice.

 

“I think, for one thing, it’s important for students to see a role model,” Anderson said. “You usually see these authors, these names on history books, and it doesn’t seem like a real person. And here we like to bring in authors, and you can actually see them, they talk to you. And it means that maybe you can do that. They are not just a mystery.”

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