Doing History in the (Literal) Shadow of Trump



Historians in the wake of a Trump rally. L to R: NPR report Sarah McCammon, Susan Fletcher, some tall guy who crashed the picture, and Conference on Faith and History President Jay Green

Back in October 2016, Donald Trump crashed the 30th biennial meeting of the Conference on Faith and History held at Regent University in Virginia Beach.  I wrote about it in a piece syndicated through Religion News Service.

Susan Fletcher, the historian and archivist at The Navigators, an evangelical ministry in Colorado Springs, was also in Virginia Beach for the conference.  Over at the blog of the American Association of State and Local History, Fletcher offers her perspective on this crazy day.

Here is a taste:

In late October 2016 I attended the 30th Biennial Conference on Faith and History held at Regent University. Our theme this year was “Historians and the Challenges of Race, Gender, and Identity.” Talking about these subjects only a few weeks before the general election in November made the atmosphere crackle with urgency. I prepared a paper on how I interpret ethnicity at the parachurch ministry in which I serve as the Historian/Archivist and the practical steps that the ministry is taking to foster racial reconciliation within our ministry.

As I was getting ready to board my plane, I learned from my colleague (and guest AASLH blogger) John Fea that Donald Trump was going to “crash” our conference.  Surprise! At the last minute Trump decided to hold a campaign rally at Regent on the steps of the academic buildings where we had intended to hold our conference, so we had been displaced. Regardless of our personal political views, I think that every historian at the conference was a little perturbed about this turn of events. Furthermore, this surprise rally was scheduled at the exact same time as my own panel session. (So much for hoping for a late-afternoon audience!)

On the big day, my fellow panelists and I sat on a park bench before our session, watching the rally supporters streaming in and philosophizing about the surreal nature of the day. With our conference papers in hand, we geared up to talk about racial reconciliation, religion, and empathy at the same time as a certain then-candidate was likely to deliver a different message a few hundred yards away.

Read the entire piece here.

Regent 2

Fletcher, Green, and that tall guy again