David Brodnax, Sr.

Professor of History

Education

Ph.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 2007
M.A., Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 2000
J.D., University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, 1999
B.A., Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 1996

Associated Academic Programs

History

If you step into a class taught by David Brodnax, Sr., you learn very quickly that God and history are inseparable.

“At Trinity, I can more fully discuss the key role that religion has played in human history, including not only the positive impact that it has had on the world, but also the ways that some people have misused God’s Word to harm the world.”

Brodnax believes that teaching and writing about history is one way to bring about social justice. He contends that many of the problems in the world are caused by a lack of understanding of history and the impact of the past on the present.

“The book of Exodus tells us that when a new pharaoh ‘who did not know Joseph’ came to power, he began oppressing the Israelites. I have always taken this as an important lesson that demonstrates the importance of knowing history.

“If young people are made more aware of the past, they are more likely to make socially responsible decisions in their own lives. For example, many Trinity students have not been exposed to a great deal of racial, ethnic, or religious diversity before coming to college, so I feel it is my responsibility to help them expand their understanding of this world before they enter it as gainfully employed adults.”

Brodnax received his bachelor’s degree in history at Illinois Wesleyan University. He earned a law degree at the University of Iowa before receiving a master’s in history at Northwestern University. In the spring of 2007, Brodnax successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at Northwestern. He joined the faculty at Trinity Christian College in 2005.

He enjoys seeing his students grow intellectually through their hard work and hearing them talk about how his classes have exposed them to historical events and ideas that they never heard before.

He lives in Berwyn, Ill., and he attends Covenant United Church of Christ in South Holland, Ill., and Pilgrim Congregational Church in Oak Park, Ill.

Courses

African American History
African History
History of Chicago
History of Terrorism Involving the United States
Introduction to Historical Inquiry

Latin American History
Police and Social Reform
Religion in America
Senior History Seminar
U.S. History, 1800-1900
U.S. History, 1920-21st Century

Papers Published and/or Presented

Books
Breathing the Freedom’s Air: The African American Struggle for Equal Citizenship in Iowa, 1830-1900,
in progress.

“’Meet force with force and law with law’: Black Self-Defense in 19th-Century Iowa,” The Oxford Handbook of Midwestern History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021).

Papers, Publications and Presentations

“As the spirit gave them ability”: A Brief History of African American Pentecostalism, Pilgrim Congregational Church, Oak Park, IL (May 2021).

“Up This Freedom Road Together”: A Brief History of the African American Church, Pilgrim Congregational Church, Oak Park, IL (February 2021).

“They Call Me a Saint”: Engaging with Dr. King’s Legacy, and Creating a New One, in Our Divided World, Pilgrim Congregational Church, Oak Park, IL (January 2021).

“’The brightest star under the blue dome of heaven’: Civil Rights and Midwestern Black Identity in Iowa, 1839-1900,” Middle West Review 7:1 (Fall 2020).

Interviewed by Amy Mayer of Iowa Public Radio for the articles “Why Are There So Few Black Farmers in the Midwest?” and “Always A Small Group, Black Farmers in Iowa Have Dwindled to Very Few” (16 October 2020 & 15 December 2020). 

“Antwan ‘Big Boi’ Patton,” entry in The African American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).

The Past and Future of Midwestern History, plenary panel at Midwestern History Conference (May 2021).

Heartland Blackness: Diasporic Consciousness in Iowa’s African American Press, 1894-1914, Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora, Williamsburg, VA (November 2019).

Searching for Freedom: African American Migration in Iowa, 1830-1900. African American Museum of Iowa & Humanities Iowa, Driven by Hope Lecture Series, Saint Ambrose University, Davenport, IA (March 2019).

“The line which fixes the equality of right”: Clark v. Board of Directors and 19th-Century School Desegregation. Missouri Valley History Conference, Omaha, NE (March 2019).

“How I Got Over”: Music, Religion, and the Struggle for Equality, Adult Education Lecture Series, Pilgrim (March 2019).

“Owing to the War”: The Daily Political Lives of Black Veteran Families in Iowa, 1865-1938. Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Indianapolis, IN (October 2018).

The Legacy of Clark in Black Education and Black Respectability. Clark 150 Conference: Past, Present and Future of Equality in Iowa, Drake University, Des Moines, IA (September 2018).

Clark v. Board of Directors and 19th-Century School Desegregation. 2018 Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference, Des Moines, IA (August 2018).

“A great injustice has been done our children”: African American Education in Iowa, 1838-1900. Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Cincinnati, OH (September 2017) and Ohio Academy of History, Dayton, OH (March 2018).

“Christ has done away all distinctions of nation”: The Divided Christian World of William Wilberforce, Adult Education Series Lecture, Pilgrim (February 2018) & Westminster Presbyterian Church, Munster, IN (April 2018).

“The Equality of Right”: The History and Legal Significance of Clark v. Board of Directors, Introduction to Legal Reasoning course, University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, IA (August 2014-19).

“Their Old Comrade”: Black Public Remembrances of Slavery, War, and Freedom in Dallas County, Iowa, 1860-1900. Midwestern History Conference, Grand Rapids, MI (June 2017).

“Shall we forget the many brave boys?”: The Capital of Black Military Service in Nineteenth-Century Iowa. Missouri Valley History Conference, Omaha, NE (March 2017).

“Because they were the only Negro children”: Racial Isolation & Progress in Dallas County, Iowa, 1860-1910. Northern Great Plains History Conference, St. Cloud, MN (September 2016).

Interviewed by Jon Lauck for Midwestern History Association podcast, St. Cloud, MN (September 2016).

“They Would Die There as Soon as Anywhere”: Black Iowans’ Physical and Legal Resistance to Slavery, 1844-1860. Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, New Haven, CT (July 2016).

With Silvana Siddali and Dana Elizabeth Weiner, co-organizer, African Americans in the Nineteenth Century West Symposium, Saint Louis University (May 2016).

“Because they were the only Negro children”: Racial Isolation & Progress in Dallas County, Iowa, 1860-1910. African Americans in the Nineteenth Century West Symposium, Saint Louis University (May 2016).

Interviewed by Matt Soergel of the Jacksonville Times for the article “George Edwin Taylor, Presidential Candidate and Son of a Slave, Made Jacksonville His Last Home” (7 February 2016).

Interviewed by Linton Weeks for NPR story “A Forgotten Presidential Candidate From 1904,” http://www.npr.org/sections/npr-history-dept/2015/12/01/455267676/a-forgotten-presidential-candidate-from-1904 (3 December 2015).

Lecture on 19th-century U.S. history to A.P. U.S. History students, Leyden High School District 212, IL (2013-17).

Recorded podcast for “Iowans and the Civil Rights Movement,” online course, Teaching and Learning Iowa History Series, Iowa State University (June 2015).

Professional Society Membership

Mid-America American Studies Association
Association for the Study of African American Life and History
Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora
Trinity Christian College Professor of the Year (2021-2022)

+ Expertise

If you step into a class taught by David Brodnax, Sr., you learn very quickly that God and history are inseparable.

“At Trinity, I can more fully discuss the key role that religion has played in human history, including not only the positive impact that it has had on the world, but also the ways that some people have misused God’s Word to harm the world.”

Brodnax believes that teaching and writing about history is one way to bring about social justice. He contends that many of the problems in the world are caused by a lack of understanding of history and the impact of the past on the present.

“The book of Exodus tells us that when a new pharaoh ‘who did not know Joseph’ came to power, he began oppressing the Israelites. I have always taken this as an important lesson that demonstrates the importance of knowing history.

“If young people are made more aware of the past, they are more likely to make socially responsible decisions in their own lives. For example, many Trinity students have not been exposed to a great deal of racial, ethnic, or religious diversity before coming to college, so I feel it is my responsibility to help them expand their understanding of this world before they enter it as gainfully employed adults.”

Brodnax received his bachelor’s degree in history at Illinois Wesleyan University. He earned a law degree at the University of Iowa before receiving a master’s in history at Northwestern University. In the spring of 2007, Brodnax successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at Northwestern. He joined the faculty at Trinity Christian College in 2005.

He enjoys seeing his students grow intellectually through their hard work and hearing them talk about how his classes have exposed them to historical events and ideas that they never heard before.

He lives in Berwyn, Ill., and he attends Covenant United Church of Christ in South Holland, Ill., and Pilgrim Congregational Church in Oak Park, Ill.

+ Courses, Publications & Research

Courses

African American History
African History
History of Chicago
History of Terrorism Involving the United States
Introduction to Historical Inquiry

Latin American History
Police and Social Reform
Religion in America
Senior History Seminar
U.S. History, 1800-1900
U.S. History, 1920-21st Century

Papers Published and/or Presented

Books
Breathing the Freedom’s Air: The African American Struggle for Equal Citizenship in Iowa, 1830-1900,
in progress.

“’Meet force with force and law with law’: Black Self-Defense in 19th-Century Iowa,” The Oxford Handbook of Midwestern History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021).

Papers, Publications and Presentations

“As the spirit gave them ability”: A Brief History of African American Pentecostalism, Pilgrim Congregational Church, Oak Park, IL (May 2021).

“Up This Freedom Road Together”: A Brief History of the African American Church, Pilgrim Congregational Church, Oak Park, IL (February 2021).

“They Call Me a Saint”: Engaging with Dr. King’s Legacy, and Creating a New One, in Our Divided World, Pilgrim Congregational Church, Oak Park, IL (January 2021).

“’The brightest star under the blue dome of heaven’: Civil Rights and Midwestern Black Identity in Iowa, 1839-1900,” Middle West Review 7:1 (Fall 2020).

Interviewed by Amy Mayer of Iowa Public Radio for the articles “Why Are There So Few Black Farmers in the Midwest?” and “Always A Small Group, Black Farmers in Iowa Have Dwindled to Very Few” (16 October 2020 & 15 December 2020). 

“Antwan ‘Big Boi’ Patton,” entry in The African American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).

The Past and Future of Midwestern History, plenary panel at Midwestern History Conference (May 2021).

Heartland Blackness: Diasporic Consciousness in Iowa’s African American Press, 1894-1914, Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora, Williamsburg, VA (November 2019).

Searching for Freedom: African American Migration in Iowa, 1830-1900. African American Museum of Iowa & Humanities Iowa, Driven by Hope Lecture Series, Saint Ambrose University, Davenport, IA (March 2019).

“The line which fixes the equality of right”: Clark v. Board of Directors and 19th-Century School Desegregation. Missouri Valley History Conference, Omaha, NE (March 2019).

“How I Got Over”: Music, Religion, and the Struggle for Equality, Adult Education Lecture Series, Pilgrim (March 2019).

“Owing to the War”: The Daily Political Lives of Black Veteran Families in Iowa, 1865-1938. Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Indianapolis, IN (October 2018).

The Legacy of Clark in Black Education and Black Respectability. Clark 150 Conference: Past, Present and Future of Equality in Iowa, Drake University, Des Moines, IA (September 2018).

Clark v. Board of Directors and 19th-Century School Desegregation. 2018 Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference, Des Moines, IA (August 2018).

“A great injustice has been done our children”: African American Education in Iowa, 1838-1900. Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Cincinnati, OH (September 2017) and Ohio Academy of History, Dayton, OH (March 2018).

“Christ has done away all distinctions of nation”: The Divided Christian World of William Wilberforce, Adult Education Series Lecture, Pilgrim (February 2018) & Westminster Presbyterian Church, Munster, IN (April 2018).

“The Equality of Right”: The History and Legal Significance of Clark v. Board of Directors, Introduction to Legal Reasoning course, University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, IA (August 2014-19).

“Their Old Comrade”: Black Public Remembrances of Slavery, War, and Freedom in Dallas County, Iowa, 1860-1900. Midwestern History Conference, Grand Rapids, MI (June 2017).

“Shall we forget the many brave boys?”: The Capital of Black Military Service in Nineteenth-Century Iowa. Missouri Valley History Conference, Omaha, NE (March 2017).

“Because they were the only Negro children”: Racial Isolation & Progress in Dallas County, Iowa, 1860-1910. Northern Great Plains History Conference, St. Cloud, MN (September 2016).

Interviewed by Jon Lauck for Midwestern History Association podcast, St. Cloud, MN (September 2016).

“They Would Die There as Soon as Anywhere”: Black Iowans’ Physical and Legal Resistance to Slavery, 1844-1860. Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, New Haven, CT (July 2016).

With Silvana Siddali and Dana Elizabeth Weiner, co-organizer, African Americans in the Nineteenth Century West Symposium, Saint Louis University (May 2016).

“Because they were the only Negro children”: Racial Isolation & Progress in Dallas County, Iowa, 1860-1910. African Americans in the Nineteenth Century West Symposium, Saint Louis University (May 2016).

Interviewed by Matt Soergel of the Jacksonville Times for the article “George Edwin Taylor, Presidential Candidate and Son of a Slave, Made Jacksonville His Last Home” (7 February 2016).

Interviewed by Linton Weeks for NPR story “A Forgotten Presidential Candidate From 1904,” http://www.npr.org/sections/npr-history-dept/2015/12/01/455267676/a-forgotten-presidential-candidate-from-1904 (3 December 2015).

Lecture on 19th-century U.S. history to A.P. U.S. History students, Leyden High School District 212, IL (2013-17).

Recorded podcast for “Iowans and the Civil Rights Movement,” online course, Teaching and Learning Iowa History Series, Iowa State University (June 2015).

+ Awards & Memberships

Professional Society Membership

Mid-America American Studies Association
Association for the Study of African American Life and History
Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora
Trinity Christian College Professor of the Year (2021-2022)