Story by Chris Graham
Nicholas Patler is nothing if not persistent.
He hatched an idea for a fresh look at the politics of race in the administration of former president Woodrow Wilson over a period of a dozen years – the last three of which he spent researching and crafting his examination of the protest movement that challenged the segregationist policies enacted during the first two years of Wilson’s first term in the White House.
And then, upon the release of his first book, Jim Crow and the Wilson Administration: Protesting Federal Segregation in the Early Twentieth Century, the Staunton resident and R.E. Lee High School alum set himself to the task of doing what he could do to make sure that the world was aware of what he had done.
“I said early on that this wasn’t just going to be something for me to read. I didn’t want this to be something that sat on a shelf somewhere collecting dust,” said Patler, who will be featured on C-SPAN’s “Book TV” this coming Saturday at noon.
The national cable outlet will broadcast a talk on Jim Crow and the Wilson Administration that Patler delivered at the University of Virginia on Feb. 23.
“Honestly, I’m more nervous about it now than I was when I gave the talk at UVa.,” Patler told The Augusta Free Press.
Patler has taken a novel approach for a scholarly writer to marketing his book – scheduling book signings anywhere and everywhere he can and in his own words “pestering” executives at C-SPAN to try to get his work featured on the network.
“Last summer, I actually went to the C-SPAN headquarters and talked my way inside. I remember begging the receptionist to let me talk to a producer. She said she couldn’t do that without getting in trouble,” Patler said.
He was able to give a brief pitch to the receptionist that ended up getting him a call from C-SPAN founder and president Brian Lamb.
“He called me a couple of weeks later and said that he would consider me for one of their future programs,” Patler said.
Patler said he kept the network up to date with his schedule of book-related events.
“I finally got the call the day before this event at UVa. that they were going to come down to tape the talk for a future show,” Patler said.
He was a little nervous at the start of the talk, he said, “but as I got into the flow, I think I did OK.”
“One thing that is important, I think, is that I didn’t notice the C-SPAN cameras once. I was able to focus on the task at hand. I hope that comes across,” Patler said.
He wouldn’t have known one way or the other if it was up to him.
“If it weren’t for the prodding of family and a few friends, I’m not sure if I would watch it at all. I’m too hard on myself on these kinds of things. But since they insisted, we’re going to have a little get-together to celebrate,” Patler said.
Patler said he feels “so blessed” to have the opportunity to share his book with a nationwide audience.
“I also feel humbled. I know that there are a lot more talented writers out there who don’t have these kinds of chances. I think it was just a matter of me pestering them enough that they finally relented and decided to give me this chance,” Patler said.