Congratulations to Penn Manor history teacher Todd Mealy on the publication of his fourth book.
Titled “This is the Rat Speaking,” the nonfiction book chronicles the takeover of Franklin & Marshall College in 1969 by African-American students.
On May 22 of that year, black students took faculty members hostage and demanded that the college diversify its curriculum and expand opportunities for black students, many of whom felt alienated on campus.
After writing a 25-page paper on the takeover for a graduate class, Mealy decided to expand his scope and write a book about the incident.
He spent the 2015-2016 school year researching parallels between the F&M takeover and other black student takeovers at colleges and universities in 1968 and 1969, in the era of the Black Power movement.
He tracked down several students who participated in or witnessed the F&M takeover, along with the two surviving professors who were taken hostage, to get their perspectives, both from 1969 and looking back on the incident today.
Mealy said he hopes the book helps advance the dialogue on race.
“I think it’s important for everyone to look at race in America with an empathetic mind. Race is not some ancillary issue. Race is at the center of everything that has occurred in American history,” he said.
“It would be great if readers could read this contentious story and agree that many of this country’s racial problems emanate from misunderstanding.”
Mealy’s other books include “Legendary Locals of Harrisburg”; “Aliened American,” a biography of William Howard Day; and “Biography of an Antislavery City,” about anti-slavery advocates, Abolitionists and the Underground Railroad in Harrisburg.
“This is the Rat Speaking” can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg.