African American history, Alabama history now offered at CACC

Published 2:17 pm Monday, November 29, 2021

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Students at Coastal Alabama Community College will have two new hyperlocal history courses to choose from in Spring 2022, thanks to a concerted effort between administrators and faculty members.

African American History and Alabama History will be offered at several of the college’s campuses during the next semester, filling out course loads that include broader classes like Western Civilization and World History.

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“Our students can’t go down the street and see the pyramids,” said Marcus Gordon, chairperson for the History, Political Science and Geography department. “Now they’ll have the opportunity to recognize names they might even be related to, and places they’ve seen throughout their lives.”

When the college’s instructional affairs committee recently approved both classes, it was just the beginning of the hard work to bring them to the classroom, he said. Committees were quickly formed within the history department as the passionate educators started searching in earnest for textbooks and other curricula to help create the classes.

“Our instructors were so fired up about this, and they really went above and beyond, reviewing materials, creating assignments and building classes that would not just inform our students, but include a lot of local flavor for our region,” Gordon said. “One of the books was 800 pages, and everyone took the time to read it. I’m so proud of them.”

For African American History (HIS256), the educators chose to use open educational resources for classwork, which translates to zero book fees for students who enroll. Those online resources will be augmented with field trips that allow the students to experience the living history of south Alabama throughout the communities they reside in.

“Offering an African American history class affords students an opportunity to learn about the contributions of countless individuals while expanding the narrative on once marginalized groups,” said Dr. Kouri Allen, who will teach that elective class at the college’s Bay Minette campus. “This class moves the African American story from the footnote of history to center stage, providing an overview of what America was and what it has become.”

African American History will be offered in Bay Minette from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 1 to 3:40 p.m. Wednesdays at the Fairhope campus.

The Alabama History course (HIS260) will be taught through the textbook Inside Alabama, written by Hardy Jackson. The class will be offered from 1 to 3:45 p.m. Tuesdays in Bay Minette and Fairhope; from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays in Gulf Shores; from 1 to 3:45 p.m. Thursdays in Monroeville; and from 1 to 3:45 p.m. Mondays in Thomasville.

What’s so interesting about the two new electives is that neither subject can be taught without the inclusion of the other. And some significant figures will bridge both classes, such as John LeFlore, a pioneer of the Civil Rights Era who led desegregation efforts both in the Mobile County Public School System and the community it served.

Gordon said an added bonus to both courses being electives is that anyone can take them, from students on a graduation path to non-traditional students within the community just looking to gain a greater depth of knowledge about their region and its people.

“Our big focus is to teach this from a local perspective where students can really connect with the history that’s all around,” he said. “They need to know that people who lived here endured challenges, overcame a lot and laid the foundation for the lives we live today.

And by looking back at some of these figures, hopefully, the students will come out with a deeper appreciation of that responsibility.”