Race and the American Story is a national educational movement dedicated to cultivating conversation, fostering understanding, broadening knowledge, and building community among people of different backgrounds and walks of life in the U.S.
Focusing on the case study of African American history as an important and illuminating thread of the American story, this project aims to learn from and engage deeply in the historic and ongoing struggle for racial justice in the United States. In this way we hope to influence the construction of a shared American historical narrative–an American Story–that is capable of grounding and sustaining our precarious American experiment in the quest for true and equal citizenship for all.
The core of the Race and the American Story Project is our undergraduate course, which provides a distinctive opportunity for students to listen in on, and actively join, the conversations about race and American political principles that have in many ways defined American history from its beginning up to the present time.
How it Began
The “Race and the American Story” project was created by Stephanie Shonekan and Adam Seagrave as a response to racial tensions that were percolating both nationally and on the University of Missouri (Mizzou) campus in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Both faculty members at Mizzou at the time–Shonekan in Black Studies and Music, and Seagrave in Political Science and the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy–Shonekan and Seagrave aimed to foster shared understanding among diverse students through two complementary avenues: the reading and discussion of primary American historical sources, and the sharing and discussion of great music.
Read the full story on how Race and the American Story got started.
Each year, the students and faculty involved in the course participate in a two-day immersive experience held at a location of significance for the history of race in America. We have illuminating conversations, listen to unique presentations, encounter local history and culture, and build our community by getting to know one another.
How do I get involved?
There are many ways to get involved in the Race and the American Story project including bringing the program to your college or university campus, or by participating or creating a Race and the American Story book club.
And if you’re a community group, museum or another organization that would like to be involved, or you would like to support our work through a donation, please connect with us.
Our Participating Locations
Race and the American Story was founded at the University of Missouri. It has since been developed at two other university campuses. We are actively looking for more universities to get involved in the project.
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
Center for Political Thought and Leadership
The Center for Political Thought and Leadership aims to further research in American political thought and to support civic education at all levels both within and beyond the classroom environment.
W. E. B. Du Bois Center
The W. E. B. Du Bois Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst was established in 2009 to engage the nation and the world in discussion and scholarship about the global issues involving race, labor and social justice.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI
Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy
The Kinder Institute is a vibrant, diverse community of scholars who share not only an academic interest in rigorously unpacking the complex history of constitutional democracy in the U.S. and around the globe but also a commitment to collective inquiry.
How do our participating locations work together?
We partner with particular faculty members at various institutions who are interested in offering the course to their students. We provide the core syllabus as well as access to the shared discussion forum and other materials available to participating students and faculty on the website. Partner faculty members are encouraged to attend the annual symposium and contribute to the intellectual life of the project by writing online articles and engaging in the shared discussion forum.
News & Events
Learn more about what’s happening with Race and the American Story.