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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 23, 2007

Feb. 8 WSUI 'Live From Prairie Lights' Reading Celebrates Black History Month

In conjunction with Black History Month, University of Northern Iowa faculty member Jeffrey S. Copeland will read from "Inman's War: A Soldier's Story of Life in a Colored Battalion in WW II" in a free event at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The reading will be recorded for broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series originating on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910. "Live from Prairie Lights," hosted by Julie Englander, airs at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on AM 910 WSUI, AM 640 WOI and AM 1010 KRNI. A program will also be broadcast at 5 p.m. Sundays on 91.7 FM KSUI.

"Inman's War" is story of an African-American UI graduate who joined a "Colored Battalion" in World War II and served in Italy. Inman Perkins was secretly married to Olivia, a St. Louis schoolteacher who later used his example in her classroom. Perkins was a gifted writer and Copeland's account is based on more than 150 letters sent to Olivia, and her return correspondence.

Perkins attended the UI in the 1930s, at a time when it was one of only a few integrated colleges in the United States. He earned a UI master's degree in chemistry in 1939.

Comedian and activist Dick Gregory wrote in the book's introduction, "'Inman's War' is on one level an ugly story about America and racism and prejudice and discrimination and sexism. But it is also a human story, a story about real people, a story of friendship and loyalty, a story of the human spirit as it tries to overcome adversity.

"On another level, it is also a tragedy, a story of soldiers in a `Colored Battalion' who were serving for and were willing if necessary to die for their country -- and who never felt equal to others until they drove the few miles from where they were once stationed in Texas across the border into a foreign country where they could feel the freedom and equality they were fighting for. It is a magnificent slice of [American] history."

Copeland, who head the UNI English and literature department, is responsible for 20 books as writer or editor. He is editor of the poetry anthology "The Shooting Star," and the author of two books of interviews with poets.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073; cell: 310-430-1013;