New MU course tackles race and American history
COLUMBIA – A new course at the University of Missouri is taking on the challenge of talking about race relations. The class is called “Race and the American Story” and will focus on the intersection of race and American history.
“We’re not just going to talk about current issues that can get heated and emotional and non-productive,” associate professor Adam Seagrave said. “We’re going to talk about the ways in which our current issues stem from things that have happened in the past.”
The course is one-credit hour and will meet for one hour once a week. Seagrave said he doesn’t want the course to another burden for students.
“It’s definitely more experienced focus and less assignment focused,” Seagrave said. “The readings won’t be too long and the class will be discussion based and students will have to write reflections.”
Seagrave has had a long interest in African-American history and politics. He said he thinks it’s essential to understanding American history.
"I came to the conclusion very early on in my teaching career that African-American history and the African-American experience is really a lot of ways the core of the American experience,” Seagrave said. “If we can understand African-American history, understand the history of slavery and understand the abolition movement we can really understand what’s best in American history.”
The course was developed as an off-shoot of Citizenship@Mizzou, a freshman orientation that is required after the protests in 2015. It's meant to “engage students with the values of Mizzou.” Dr. Shonekan, chair of the black studies department at MU is over the program and was looking for ways to extend those conversations into the year.
“I think with the issue of race relations we’re scared of talking about it so I think it’d be good to get it on a college campus,” Symone Hamilton MU sophomore said. She believes race is still major issue today.
“It’s becoming more and more prevalent especially with recent news and stuff like that, so I think that in itself having it as the American story will lead to an interesting kind of conversation,” Hamilton said.
The course will be offered next semester.