SAINT AUGUSTINE— A Flagler College professor’s in-depth study of the civil rights movement in northwest Florida has earned him a prestigious 2016 Florida Book Award for his book, titled “Beyond Integration: The Black Freedom Struggle in Escambia County, Florida, 1960-1980.” Dr. J. Michael Butler won the Silver Medal in the awards’ “General Non-Fiction” category.
“I am thrilled and honored,” the associate professor of History said. “It indicates that the topic of race relations in Escambia County extends beyond state borders and has regional, and even national, lessons and implications. It is also quite nice to know that my work is having an impact beyond the so-called ‘ivory tower’ in an area that is as important as the continuous struggle for racial justice in America.”
“Beyond Integration” examines how institutional forms of cultural racism persisted well beyond the visible signs of racial integration in the 1960s. According to Butler, the civil rights movement did not end in 1968. The movement in the 1960s targeted segregation by legal statutes, such as overturning voting restrictions. ‘De facto’ forms of segregation still existed.
The Flagler professor was one of more than 200 writers to compete for the awards, which is an annual awards program that recognizes, honors and celebrates the best books about Florida published in the previous year. It is sponsored by Florida State University.
“Such prestigious recognition makes me very happy for my immediate family, Flagler College and the University of North Carolina Press, all of whom supported me at various points in different ways during the project’s completion,” he said. “The fact that I can share the Florida Book Award with all of them makes it even more meaningful to me.”
Butler received both his master’s and doctorate degrees in History from the University of Mississippi, where he specialized in 20th century Southern History with an emphasis on the civil rights movement. He teaches, among others, courses in American History, African-American History, Slavery in the United States and The Civil Rights Movement. He will attend the banquet for Florida Book Awards on April 12 in Tallahassee.