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Dr. Joel Rhodes

Host - Sesquicentennial Moments, Telling History

Joel P. Rhodes is a Professor in the History Department of Southeast Missouri State University. Raised in Kansas, he earned a B.S. in Education from the University of Kansas before earning his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

His teaching and research interests are in Cold War-era American political and social history and the history of children and childhood. Dr. Rhodes has written The Sixties in the Lives of American Children: Growing Up in a Land Called Honalee, The Voice of Violence: Performative Violence as Protest in the Vietnam Era, and A Missouri Railroad Pioneer: the Life of Louis Houck. An avid storytelling enthusiast, he has also written Haunted Cape Girardeau: Where the River Turns a Thousand Chilling Tales and co-authored Historic Cape Girardeau: an Illustrated History. His articles and chapters have appeared in On the Ground: The Black Panther Party in Communities Across America, Girlhood in America: An Encyclopedia, and the Missouri Historical Review. Dr. Rhodes has also delivered papers at the American Historical Association (AHA) annual meeting, and international conferences hosted by the Society for the History of Children and Youth (SHCY) and the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past (SSCIP). He is currently researching and writing a book on the Vietnam War in the lives of American children.

Dr. Rhodes serves, or has served, on a number of Boards of Directors including the Missouri Humanities Council, the State Historical Records Advisory Board (appointed by Governor Jay Nixon), Missouri Association for Museums and Archives, National Digital Newspaper Program in Missouri Advisory Board, Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation (Pittsburg, Kansas), The Historical Association of Greater Cape Girardeau, The Stars & Stripes Museum/Library Association, and co-produced the Cape Girardeau Storytelling Festival.

He lives in Cape Girardeau with his wife Jeanie and his three children.

  • On the eve of the bicentennial, KRCU crackled to life on March 5, 1976, an alternative music college station powered by student on-air personalities and 10 watts. Which meant that the station’s limited daily broadcast schedule carried from its tower on Academic Hall all the way to Capaha Park.
  • “I’m not trying to be a hero,” Sheriff Will Kane stoically resolved,” If you think I like this, you’re crazy…. I’ve got to, that’s the whole thing.” Thus, Gary Cooper’s character set out for a gunfight, facing down outlaws in the classic 1952 western High Noon.
  • Just as two African American women – Roberta Slayton and Helen Carter – integrated Southeast Missouri’s student body in 1954, two black men broke the sports color barrier. These pioneering student athletes – Ronald Staten and Curtis Williams - became the first African Americans to play intercollegiate sports for our university.
  • Abe Stuber coached football, track, and basketball at Southeast between 1932 and 1946. During those years roaming the sidelines, courtsides, and meets, Stuber’s teams – usually known as the “College Indians” or “Teachers College Indians – won 17 MIAA titles in three sports.
  • “Pressure is a privilege,” tennis legend Billie Jean King observed. And now that the University of Iowa Hawkeyes’ generational superstar Caitlin Clark has become the NCAA Division-I all-time leading scorer in basketball – male or female – it’s fitting to highlight the transformative impact of Title IX on America’s sporting landscape; a landmark law opening doors for untold young female athletes to experience that unique privilege of athletic pressure.
  • Consistent with its professional teacher-training mission, in 1896 the Third District Normal School opened its first “practice” or “laboratory” school to give prospective educators hands-on classroom experience. What we today at Southeast showcase as experiential learning.
  • Formed in 1907, just two years after the completion of Academic Hall, the Southeast Marching Band is one of the oldest traditions on campus. Officially named the “Golden Eagles” in 1957 after a steamboat that traveled the Mississippi River, the band has marched to its own drumming across football fields, parade routes, and castle esplanades.
  • “Someday I’m gonna be, exactly like you,” a wispy little voice sang out in Barbie’s first television commercial in 1959. “Till then… I’ll make believe that I am you.”
  • Attend any function, game, or sporting event at Southeast Missouri State and you’ll be greeted, hugged, and otherwise entertained by an oversized raptor, Rowdy the Redhawk, our cheerleading mascot. But it wasn’t always Rowdy that adorned baseball caps, t-shirts, and other Southeast merch.
  • Following the May 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education – which ruled that racial segregation in education was inherently unequal – many America schools began integrating that fall while others stubbornly resisted for years. Southeast fell into the former category, enrolling Roberta Slayton and Helen Carter, our university’s first African American students.