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‘The Black Man Cometh’ lecture honors Black History Month

It was standing-room only at “The Black Man Cometh” lecture held in February at Western. Based on playwright Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh,” the lecture was written and presented by Associate Professor of English Dr. Don Gagnon in Higgins Hall. “‘The Iceman Cometh’ is used to measure O’Neill’s vision of race in America,” Gagnon said. “For a white writer to actually engage black issues on a serious level was particularly noteworthy.”

O’Neill’s prior efforts, no matter how well-intentioned, Gagnon said, were not always successful in creating a greater sensitivity and value to African Americans. Through the creation of Joe Mott’s character, he said, O’Neill overcame earlier challenges with an accurate portrayal of early American experience. “O’Neill did overcome much of his racialist thinking.”

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Digging Deeper

Associate Professor of English Dr. Don Gagnon speaks during Black History Month.