CSUF News Service
Meet Tyler Parry
To Achieve His Career Goals, He Traveled to the South and Back
Sept. 23, 2014
When Tyler Parry was looking for a faculty position, he said to his wife, "There's this job at Cal State Fullerton that is exactly what I do." The position of assistant professor of African American studies suited him perfectly because of his academic interests. He also would be able to return to the western United States, where he is originally from.
Parry graduated with a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, while working full time at a hotel. During his junior year, he signed up for a course in comparative slavery and was fascinated by what he heard. "I found myself in the professor's office talking to him — maybe bothering him to a certain extent, because I was there so often — but he told me, 'If you want to pursue this as a profession, this is what you should consider doing.'"
He was accepted to the University of South Carolina, where he earned a master's degree and doctorate in history with a concentration in slavery — "but slavery from a very broad perspective, looking at topics like diaspora, movement, migration, cultural change and law," he explained.
Parry also realized early on that he had chosen the right location in which to study this particular field. "To be able to be so close to those histories and to actually see how the histories have played out in that location ... South Carolina was one of the original 13 colonies, so in some respects, we're looking at the place where it begins and where it ends, as far as the state being the first to secede from the Union in order to keep slavery."
It was important to him, he adds, to try to understand the region on its own terms. Parry's main interest is not just the institution of slavery, but "the people that were trapped within it — and what they did to deal with it."