Kevin D. Mosley, a retired Pennsylvania state trooper, presented “Reflections on Resistance” at Seton Hill University on March 20 to discuss race relations in the United States.
After spending some time in school after his retirement, Mosley decided that he wanted to write a book instead. He began traveling to Civil Rights sites to incorporate their histories into his book, and Mosley discussed and showed pictures of these sites in his presentation.
“It almost feels like a calling, because I think my ancestors on the other side of the veil are saying to me ‘This story needs to be told and these truths need to be put out there, and we expect you to do that,’” Mosley said. “I also wanted to be able to push back against what I knew to be false, but I needed to get the knowledge into my head to be able to do that.”
2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches in the U.S., and Mosley was selected to participate in the commemoration where participants walked along the same path as the Civil Rights marchers. Original Civil Rights marchers from 1965 and former President Barack Obama and his family participated as well.
“We only walked 34 of those 52 miles, and we had good shoes, good rain gear,” Mosley said. “They didn’t have any of that. It helps me feel what they might have experienced, but me living in an America that is far different from that time gives me a greater appreciation for what they went through for me.”
Mosley has also met different members of the Civil Rights Movement, including Congressman John Lewis, one of the original Freedom Riders.
“I think the first thing that stands out is how humble they are,” Mosley said. “I have nothing but good things to say about them. I applaud them for being able to speak out. Those are things that need to be told.”
One specific site that is memorable to Mosley is Harpers Ferry, W.Va. This is where abolitionist John Brown led a raid on an arsenal in 1859 and where a civil rights group called The Niagara Movement held many meetings.
Mosley has also traveled to Money, Miss., where Emmett Till was murdered in 1955. Till was a 14-year-old African American who was accused of whistling at a white woman and was later murdered by her husband and his half brother.
Additionally, Mosley has visited numerous churches that were notable during the Civil Rights Movement, including the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. where four African American girls died in a bombing. In Memphis, Tenn., Mosley traveled to the Mason Temple where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” and the Lorraine Motel where King was assassinated the next morning.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is one of the most notable places for Mosley, which he has visited numerous times. He was there on Sept. 24, 2016 to see former presidents George W. Bush and Obama speak for the opening of the museum. Starting from the bottom, each floor of the museum focuses on a specific time in history, from slavery to reconstruction up to culture on the top floor.
“It was really interesting to kind of see where we started and where we are now and how much work we still have to do,” said sophomore communication major Charlotte Mango. “I actually learned a lot more than I expected to and he definitely kept my attention the whole time.”
Nicole Peeler, associate professor of English, asked Mosley to speak at SHU after she saw him speak at the Summit Against Racism in Pittsburgh.
“I was so impressed by his credentials which are so unique, to have someone who is a former state trooper really directly addressing race issues in a way that is very to the point, but also very accessible,” Peeler said. “This is the second time I’ve heard a version of his talk, and my takeaway both times has been how much I need to learn. I feel I was raised in such silence over matters of race and our history with race, and I’m not an uneducated person.”
“One of the things that I think is really important is to have these challenging discussions at a place like Seton Hill,” Peeler added.
Mosley said he would like to finish his book in about three months, which will be for “African Americans, people of color and allies.”
“We can all win at this if we decide to work together, but it’s going to take people being willing to pick up a book, take a class or just start watching documentaries about the Civil Rights Movement so that you can have a better understanding of that,” Mosley said.
At the end of his presentation, Mosley said he still sees inequality occurring today and that work still needs to be done. However, Mosley is “grateful” to live in a time where these issues can be discussed.
“I would say that there is a lack of knowledge that’s out there,” Mosley said. “I want people to understand how we got to this point in time. You have to go back and you need to study enslavement, reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement and how we got to where we are today. We can grow this country together, and that’s the only way it’s going to grow, is together.”
Kevin Mosley’s Reading List
- The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America – Khalil Gibran Muhammad
- The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing – Joe R. Feagin
- The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism – Edward E. Baptist
- Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong – James W. Loewen
- The King Years: Historic Movements in the Civil Rights Movement – Taylor Branch
- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson (recommendation from Nicole Peeler)