Violence Against Blacks in America, Part 1

Young African American boy singing as part of a church choir

Vincent D. Jennings graduated in May 2020 from the University of Alabama with a dual B.A. in Religious Studies and Psychology. In the Fall of 2019 he began an in-depth study on America’s history of racial violence as part an independent study course with REL’s Prof. Theodore Trost — which culminated in this four-part series.

In that land…, that land…, that land…, in that great BIG BEAUTIFUL land…
Lord you know I will fare better in that land….

Sitting on the first pew of the church as an eight-year-old I recall the words of this song vividly, as the congregation sang on Sunday mornings. As the son of a pastor I was practically born in the church sanctuary, so my memories are rich and vibrant from those early years. I recall how the congregation would rock and sway as voices would bellow the words of this song, particularly the lyrics: “great BIG BEAUTIFUL land.”  I remember being proud that I knew all the words as I sang along with the adults. It mattered very little that I didn’t fully understand the lyrics. The only thing that mattered was the shared sense of harmony permeating the room that seemed to transcend music. Continue reading

The End is Here and Brings Big Things

relephanttextcitedThe semester is complete, and our seniors have walked across that stage. All semester I have had the privilege of working with the Capstone Senior Seminar, applying questions and ideas from our work to a broad range of topics and presenting them through various social media, from Twitter to Tumblr. Their final Digital Projects are now published, so you should take a look at the range of their creative approaches to expressing the significance of critical questions to many topics, from war to food to Yik Yak. Continue reading

Young Southern Historians

Bag of Plastic Toy Soldiers

Warner Thompson is a senior at the University of Alabama, who wrote the following for REL 490. He is a History major and a Religious Studies minor with future plans of Law School at the University. He was born and raised in Homewood, Alabama, and he is the oldest of three children.

When I was young, playing with sets of toy soldiers was a favorite pastime of mine. I had entire tiny armies, from different time periods and different wars, and I would spend hours lining my floor with intricate battle formations. After recently seeing a video of myself meticulously setting up one of these scenes, I began to reflect on the elementary historical narratives that were manifesting themselves in the positioning of my soldiers. The good guys, bad guys, and end results were not always consistent with historical fact, but they represented my young mind’s idea of what should have happened, and which side deserved to win. The American patriots would always whip the British redcoats; the Texans would always old the Alamo against Santa Anna; the Sioux would always win the Battle of Little Big Horn; and the gray-clad Confederate rebels would always defeat the blue-clad Yankees. All of these seem to reflect a pretty good moral foundation for a young historian except for the last example.

Continue reading