In celebration of the bicentennial of Missouri’s statehood this month, many news outlets, city and state organizations, and educational institutions are offering special events, exhibitions, videos, and tours.
Dr. John Schmalzbauer, Professor in Religious Studies at MSU, recently participated in the bicentennial initiative, “Show Me Missouri: The History of Religion in the Ozarks” that includes an interview and video, as presented in an article on OzarksFirst.com by Christina Randall, Sarah Scarlett, and Brian Calfano.
Dr. Schmalzbauer discusses the contributions of and resistance to African Americans in the region, as well as other groups, such as Catholics, Presbyterians, and Mormons.
“In fact,” Dr. Schmalzbauer explains, “African Americans literally laid the foundations for faith in the Ozarks,” and he tells the story of Hannah Fulbright, an African American woman who came to the Ozarks from Tennessee in the late 1800s. Enslaved by the white William Fulbright family, Hannah Fulbright and other African Americans actually built the cabin, the first house in Springfield, which became the first house where people gathered for the first sermon, the first church service, and the first congregation. The fact that enslaved African Americans, including Hannah Fulbright, were made to build the cabin by the white owner William Fulbright illustrates the fraught relationship between race and religion in Springfield’s history.
To read the interview and view the video, please visit: https://www.ozarksfirst.com/bicentennial/show-me-missouri-the-history-of-religion-in-the-ozarks/