Barclay Key was a bicentennial baby who spent much of his youth in Moulton, Alabama, about 90 miles northwest of Birmingham. His grandparents toiled in a variety of jobs: picking cotton, raising a few cattle and hogs, driving a school bus, inspecting clothes in a garment factory, and working at the Ford plant in Muscle Shoals. His parents’ careers were in public education and the postal service. Barclay lived a charmed childhood compared to his grandparents and parents, occupying much of his time with sports, video games, the church youth group, and aggravating his younger brother.
As an undergraduate, Barclay sampled a variety of colleges and majors but graduated with a degree in history from the University of North Alabama. Unsure of what he wanted to be if and when he grew up, Barclay finished an M.Div. at David Lipscomb University, while working as a high school history teacher. He later earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Florida.
Before joining the faculty at UA Little Rock in 2012, Barclay taught for one year at Iowa State University and five years at Western Illinois University. He recently published a book, Race and Restoration: Churches of Christ and the Black Freedom Struggle (Louisiana State University Press, 2020) and previously published chapters in two edited collections, Painting Dixie Red (University Press of Florida, 2011) and Destination Dixie (University Press of Florida, 2012). Barclay has taught courses in modern US history, African-American history, southern history, US religious history, and Arkansas history.
Through little merit of his own, Barclay married Sonya Gray in 2003. They have two children, Langston and Zora. Family and work leave little time for hobbies, but Barclay is an avid runner and a recovering college basketball and football fan. He has run every day since August 1, 2011. As time, opportunity, and finances permit, he also enjoys traveling. His favorite band is the Drive-By Truckers.
Select Publications and Media:
“Historian hears echoes from the past in debate over what history to teach in schools,” Arkansas Times, March 26, 2023.
“In the wake of the Central High crisis, crime and injustice,” Arkansas Times, October 27, 2020.