Pandemic sparks autobiography for Delaware State University professor

By Mike Finney
Posted 5/1/22

DOVER — Like many individuals, Dr. Charlie Wilson was scared at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. He had a vast collection of memories and anecdotes that he wanted to leave behind for his …

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Pandemic sparks autobiography for Delaware State University professor


DOVER — Like many individuals, Dr. Charlie Wilson was scared at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. He had a vast collection of memories and anecdotes that he wanted to leave behind for his four sons.

However, it turned out that he managed to avoid an unwanted encounter with COVID-19, which he called “the viral bug.” But it served as the impetus into what turned into “the writing bug.”

Dr. Wilson, associate dean of the College of Agriculture, Sciences and Technology at Delaware State University, had his first book “During Racism’s Remission: From Colored Fieldworker to Black Professor” published on April 11.

The urge to write his autobiography came because of the pandemic.

“In the fall of 2020, I started to write some of my life story down for my sons, just in case something happened to me with the virus,” Dr. Wilson said. “I didn’t want my personal history lost with me. The list of events, situations, and recollections began to grow, and as I started to flesh out the narrative, it was clear to see that an autobiography was developing.

“Early in 2021, I put the project down as things began to seem more optimistic with the projected availability of a vaccine, and it remained dormant for the vast majority of the year. In December of 2021, I decided to complete the manuscript and get it published.”

In his autobiography, Dr. Wilson shares stories from his journey from rural poverty while growing up on Minner Street in Houston, Delaware, with 11 siblings, to undergraduate years at Delaware State College, life in the Marine Corps, completing graduate studies at University of Delaware, and close to 25 years teaching and working at DSU.

Dr. Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Delaware State in 1984 and a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Delaware in 1994. He has been a DSU faculty member since 1997 when he arrived as an assistant professor of biological sciences.

The 60-year-old professor said, “Events in my life are examined through a prism of race relations — and sometimes racial tension — of a 50-year period that I describe as a remission of the cancer of America, racism.

“Years of optimism in finding an ultimate cure with justice, equality, and harmony as outcomes now seems threatened by signs of a relapse in the cultural health of the nation. Issues surrounding race in the years leading to 2020 are also discussed.”

He also tells stories about working in hot mid-Atlantic fields, chatting with monks atop a mountain in China, guarding the gates of Pearl Harbor, and walking the streets of Hiroshima, Japan, and the trials and tribulations that he faced while overcoming obstacles to find personal and professional achievement.

Dr. Wilson’s nearly 300-page (80,000 words) work is now available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, and several other retailers as an eBook. Hard and softcover versions are available, as well.

Writing a book was not something that was on his radar until he joined others in being shuttered inside his home due to the pandemic.

Suddenly, Dr. Wilson found a new passion.

“This was my first literary effort, and I really enjoyed the process,” he said. “The ancillary activities of editing, formatting, cover design, submission for publication, advertising, website development and author-specific social media have extended my rather steep learning curve into the world of book production,” he said.

“While I have managed to avoid the viral bug thus far, I’ll have to admit that the writing bug has gotten me, and I look forward to two or three more books going forward.”

Dr. Wilson is already working on his second book, which he said is about being more and not limiting yourself to just one thing in life.

“I’ve done many things over the years — like I was an undergraduate and stopped when I joined the Marine Corps, went to graduate school to working as a professor now,” he said.

“And when I leave Delaware State, I plan to continue writing and theater and stuff. There is always another challenge just around the corner.”

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