Repeating and recalling history: The story of Professor Robert Forrant

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Professor Robert Forrant from the History Department says that when he gets bored he likes to go to sleep, and the last nice thing he did for himself was buy a nice steak.

Forrant has taught at UMass Lowell for 25 years, and in fall 2016 he was named Distinguished University Professor. He said he loves to teach and spread his knowledge to others, including working with Lowell National Historical Park and leading walking tours.

“I think, for me, one of my favorite things is taking all the research I’ve done and the history that I know and bringing it to a larger audience than–nothing against all you students–but to a broader audience than just students,” he said.

He also said that most of the research he has done has been about immigration history and industrial and labor history. What he has learned is that history repeats itself in both good and bad ways. “Right now, we’re reliving the 1920s,” he said. “In bad ways.”

Despite that, his favorite class that he taught was a 2015 seminar on the history of the civil rights movement to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

“I think that was probably my most favorite because the university supported bringing lots of people who had been involved in the civil rights movement to campus to give talks and lectures, so it was a great class because there was so much going on,” he said. “That’s hard to duplicate.”

If the world ended tomorrow, Forrant said he would be most proud that he raised two successful children. He still leads a busy life, and has one motto that he sticks to for it.

“My philosophy is: if I’m moving, they can’t hit me,” he said.

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