North Carolina’s Appalachian State University launches programs and joins Universities Studying Slavery!
We are thrilled to announce that Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, as part of a broader commitment for greater diversity and inclusion, has joined the growing Universities Studying Slavery (USS) consortium.
Appalachian State University is one of the seventeen constituent members of the UNC System of Universities that is governed by the UNC/ State’s Board of Governors along with its local Board of Trustees whose members are appointed by the Governor. Founded in 1899, the institution began as a local teachers college providing much needed instructors for schools predominately in Western North Carolina. As an increasing demand for a college degree grew after World War II, the University began to slowly expand to its present enrollment of just over 20,000 students.
The issue of slavery in the mountains of North Carolina is both complicated and complex as many citizens on this side of the State were highly ambivalent about chattel slavery and evinced strong and continuing support for union. Indeed, most farmers did not own slaves and, as then Governor Zebulon Vance was quoted as stating regarding the War: “It is a rich man’s war, but, a poor man’s fight.” His words accurately described the sentiments of many of the North State citizens initially toward the war. North Carolina nonetheless did secede in May 1861. Over 150,000 North Carolinians ultimately fought for the Confederacy (24,000 fought for the Union), and unionist sentiment remained strong in the western portion of the state.
Appalachian State University’s project will represent an outgrowth of its existing public history and Africana Studies programs as well as two new undergraduate concentrations in Slavery Studies and Southern Studies. The student research projects will be led by a faculty team including:
- Louis Gallien is the Director of the Appalachian State Slavery Project. He teaches in The Honors College and created its “Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” course.
- Beth Davison is Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Coordinator of the Documentary Studies Program. Dr. Davison has produced and directed several documentaries, including the most recent N.C. PBS documentary Dulatown.
- Andrea Burns is Associate Professor of History and director of the public history program. She teaches courses in memory and trauma in public history and wrote From Storefront to Monument: Tracing the Public History of the Black Museum Movement. Her classes frequently collaborate with other museums in western North Carolina.
- Leslie Dula McKeeson teaches in the Leadership Studies Department of the Reich College of Education and is a member of the Board of African American Heritage for the State of North Carolina. She is a direct descendant of the two racially mixed families of the Dula families in Burke County.
We look forward to seeing the fine work coming out of this student-centered research project at Appalachian State University. Please welcome the school and the team to the growing movement of schools coming to terms with slavery and racism in institutional and regional history as part of efforts to make twenty-first century schools more diverse, welcoming, and inclusive.