History professor Jacqueline Jones was named as one of two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in history Tuesday.
Jones said she had no clue her book, “A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America,” was even in contention for the award. Alan Taylor, author of “The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832,” won the award.
“I had no idea I was even under consideration, so it was quite a surprise, and a nice one, I might add,” Jones said.
The book researches race as a social invention that has retained its power to harm the lives of Americans.
“The effects of this fiction have been devastating throughout history,” Jones said. “The idea here is that this myth or idea has been a very powerful one in justifying the exploitation of [people of] African descent and other people as well.”
Jones said growing up in a small town in Delaware and seeing the inequality African-Americans faced made her curious about this subject.
“There were separate black and white churches — black kids being bused to an all-black school, black kids not being allowed to go into the general store in town — so I was always very curious as a kid why that situation existed,” Jones said. “In a way, my interests in history have kind of grown out of those experiences.”