Barclay Key is a history professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He's a native of north Alabama, who was born into a working class family of farmers and textile workers. His father picked cotton before going to college and becoming a teacher. Barclay's Alabama roots help explain why he's a huge fan of Muscle Shoals area rockers Drive-By Truckers, whose music he has used in his history classes.
Since graduating from the University of Florida, Dr. Key has traveled the world courtesy of Fulbright Scholarships that allowed him to teach in Poland and Mexico. He is back in Little Rock now, and earlier this year, Barclay published his first book, Race and Restoration: Churches of Christ and the Black Freedom Struggle. He talks about what it was like to grow up in that faith, and how the Churches of Christ confronted the problem of race in the mid-20th century.
Barclay also talks with Colin about a new research project of his that examines a bombing in Little Rock during the civil rights era, and the investigation that wrongly put a black teenager in prison for the crime.
Robert Gudmestad is a native of Minnesota who teaches history at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He knows Colin from his days as a grad student at LSU, where they both worked with the imposing figure of Charles Royster, the late scholar of the Early Republic, the Civil War, and colonial Vietnam.
Bob is the author of two books, A Troublesome Commerce (2003), about the domestic slave trade, and Steamboats and the Rise of the Cotton Kingdom (2011). As he tells Colin, he never approached his career with much of a plan. He had a good job before he attended grad school. Even so, he decided doing history was a better fit for him. That journey took him to Richmond and then Baton Rouge, where he enjoyed good food, football, and the pleasures of a monastic academic existence.
Recorded in early June, Colin and Rob talk about the then growing Black Lives Matter protests and the fate of Confederate monuments. They reflect on he eccentric side of professional historians, and discuss at length Bob's new research project, which looks at the role Union gunboats played in the western theater of the Civil War.