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department of history and political science

Welcome to the Department of History and Political Science at Alabama State University!

dr. derryn motenLocated in the Heart of Dixie, Montgomery, Alabama is officially the Cradle of the Confederacy and the Cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. This unique vantage point provides an important backdrop to understand history and political struggle. The Confederate Congress wrote its government’s Constitution in Montgomery, guaranteeing the expansion of “Negro slavery” into the American West. The U.S. Constitution’s Thirteenth Amendment outlawed the Peculiar Institution but not until the year the Civil War ended. One hundred years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would quote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” the anthem sung by Union soldiers after capturing a Confederate city, in a speech at the conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March for voting rights. As Dr. King noted in his jeremiad that spring day, the South would lose its modern civil war as well. In Alabama, the confluence of history and political science is anything but abstract.

ASU faculty, including Department of History and Political Science faculty members, taught as well as fought to secure full citizenship rights for all. Department historian L. D. ([Paul] Lawrence Dunbar) Reddick became, in the words of Dr. King, the “historian of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.” English faculty Jo Ann Robinson and Mary Fair Burks founded in 1946 the Women’s Political Caucus, the lead organization in the 1955-1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Accepting the charge put forth by leaders such as Theodore Parker, Dr. King and President Barack Obama that the “moral arc of the universe . . . bends toward justice,” history and political science students ponder societal discrimination and disparities and consider how to use their skills and knowledge to effect positive change and to assert, as the UN Charter does, that “Everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms . . . without distinction of any kind,” and that “the will of the people shall be the basis of authority of government . . .”

The Department prepares students to create a just world, whether as public servants, teachers, attorneys, researchers or civil employees. A diverse and talented faculty corps holds doctorates from the Universities of Auburn, Clark-Atlanta, Emory, Georgia, Howard, Iowa, LSU, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Sussex (England), UCLA, Washington in St. Louis, and Wisconsin. High accomplishments both in the class and in the field define the work of faculty and students.  

The Department of History and Political Science welcomes all those desiring to study history and political science in a city shaped by both. A number of us who teach at ASU are civil rights babies — born during or in the wake of the movement. We are privileged to walk in the footsteps of Rosa Parks, Jo Ann Robinson, E. D. Nixon, Virginia Durr, Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King Jr. We are honored to carry on their legacy and work until “justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”