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History class debates Reconstruction’s success

Students in Zachary Morgan’s American History II class at Nash Community College present their team’s position during a debate on the Reconstruction Era’s outcomes. Contributed photo

ROCKY MOUNT — Nash Community College American history students participated in a class debate Feb. 15 where they answered the question of whether or not the Reconstruction Era was successful.

“This assignment allows students to critically examine our government’s ability to provide equal rights and equal protection under the law to all of its citizens,” instructor Zachary Morgan said. “By examining Reconstruction in particular, a period where the government’s stated purpose was to successfully integrate former slaves into society, students are able to form their own opinions on how successfully the United States has met the needs of African Americans during critical moments in history.”

Each student selected a team with which to participate. Teams then met to discuss each individual’s portion of the group argument. After roles were confirmed, each group submitted a thesis statement sharing its argument.

The HIS 132 American History II course is a survey of American history from the Civil War era to the present. Topics include industrialization, immigration, the Great Depression, the major American wars, the Cold War and social conflict. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze significant political, socioeconomic and cultural developments in American history since the Civil War.

During the debate, speakers representing each team presented their group’s arguments. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions of their counterparts. Debate participants were required to be professional and directly cite their sources for defending statements.

“This exercise not only helps the students explore the current assignment, but it also teaches them to better discern other points in history, as well as the present day, and form well-informed arguments on the success of equal rights in this country,” Morgan said. 

Morgan holds a Master of Arts degree in American history and a Bachelor of Science in history and social sciences, both from Western Carolina University. Prior to joining NCC in 2022, he worked as a college history instructor in western North Carolina.