Friends Speaker Series
Join the Missouri Humanities Council and the Kirkwood Historical Society for this fascinating perspective.
Sitting near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, St. Louis proudly wears the title of “Gateway to the West,” a status displayed in the Gateway Arch, the city’s iconic landmark. Another landmark, The Old Courthouse (where the Dred Scott case was tried) speaks to St. Louis’s and Missouri’s history of slavery. Thus, we are reminded that a north-south axis along the Mississippi River, not just the relationship between east and west, also shaped St. Louis’s and Missouri’s history and identity. While Missouri is commonly recognized as midwestern, its historical identity is more complicated. The area of Little Dixie along the Missouri River, the conflict with Kansas on Missouri’s western border before and during the Civil War, a history of codified racial segregation, and even the University of Missouri’s recent inclusion in the Southeastern Conference all speak to the state’s identity as “the northernmost southern state.” Using examples from history and popular culture, historian Bryan Jack explores Missouri’s southern identity. The goal of the presentation is not to convince anyone that Missouri is “southern,” but to help people understand how its geography and culture occupies a unique place in American culture.
Bio of Speaker-
Bryan Jack is associate professor of historical studies at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. He is the the editor of Southern History on Screen: Race and Rights, 1976–2016 and The Saint Louis African American Community and the Exodusters. His articles have appeared in The Griot and the Councilor, and in international publications from the British Association of American Studies and American Studies of Turkey. Jack earned his PhD from Saint Louis University, a master’s degree from the University of Alabama, and a bachelor’s degree from Baker University. He lives in the city of St. Louis.