History of Us Featured in Recent Edition of Collegian

A History of Us

Students touch a memorial in MontgomeryAn article about Dr. Giggie’s “History of Us” class, the first Black History class taught in an Alabama public high school, was featured recently in the College of Arts & Sciences magazine, Collegian.

On a January morning, 18 Central High School students sat around a circle of tables in their first period class. It’s silent, but it’s not tense—there’s an air of thoughtfulness, of students searching to find their answer to the question posed moments before. One by one, the students begin to raise their hands, looking at the professor leading the class.

“The question? ‘How does mass incarceration affect you personally?’

“Dr. John Giggie, a history professor at UA, calls on one of these high schoolers to begin, motioning that they’ll go around in a circle to discuss. The students don’t have to answer if they don’t want to, but almost every student in the class does in some form or fashion.

“The 18 students in the circle make up History of Us, the first high school African American history class in Alabama. Here, students learn about Black history on the local, state, and national levels, tying each unit together with research, social media, discussion, and personal reflection.

“Giggie, who teaches classes about lynching, civil rights, and African American history to undergraduate students at UA, is hoping that this class will bring about a new generation of young historians—a generation whose desire to learn the truth about their communities will allow them to bring voices to those who were powerless in the past.

‘One goal of this class is to create a new generation of young intellectuals, and also create a generation of engaged citizens,’ Giggie said. ‘History isn’t artificial; it isn’t something stuck between two covers in a book and put on the shelf. Rather, the ideas and experiences of the past deeply affect how we live today. And conversely, often the struggle we experience on a daily basis has historical backgrounds. People made decisions decades ago, generations ago, that impact people today. I want these students to see that.'”

…the story continues on the Collegian website.