Civil rights heroes to teach at WCCS

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2005

The Selma times-Journal

After months of preparation, the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute (NVRMI) is set to present “A Walk in History.”

Sponsored by Wallace Community College Selma (WCCS), the Slavery & Civil War Museum, the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement and the Coalition of Alabamians Reforming Education, “A Walk in History” will allow people to study the civil rights movement while earning college credits.

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“It’s been a concept for several years,” said Dr. James Mitchell, WCCS President. “I understand the rich history of the civil rights movement and I don’t want to let that die. I want to make sure that it is properly recorded.”

Held June 13-17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at WCCS, the program will focus on the Voting Rights Movement in Selma and the surrounding areas.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of the history here in Selma,” said Chantay Smith. “This will be a great way to inform the masses of what happened in ’65.”

Smith, who works at the NVRMI, said that this class will provide students with the rare opportunity to actually sit with history makers.

“There’s no better time than the present time to get information from those who helped make history,” she said. “You can’t read it all in history books because a lot is left out of them.”

Presenters for “A Walk in History” include the Rev. C.T. Vivian, Dr. Bernard Lafayette, the Rev. James Orange, Amelia Boynton, J.L. Chestnut, Senator Hank Sanders, Charles Mauldin, Spivey Gordon, Mattie Atkins, Willie Nell Avery, the Rev. James Bevel, Sheyanne Webb-Christburg, coach Lawrence Huggins, Annie Cooper, Dr. Asa Hillard and members of the original Freedom Singers.

The presenters will provide instruction through lectures, audio and video accounts, and trips to historic buildings, landmarks and memorials of the movement.

“The beauty of this is that we are not bringing in historians from far away,” Mitchell said. “Oftentimes, we bring in people who read about it, or studied it – but we are bringing in people who were actually there.”

Mitchell said that having these living “foot soldiers” present the lessons will provide students with a much deeper meaning.

In addition to this week-long class, a two day mini-course on African American history will be offered by Dr. Asa Hilliard.

A professor at Georgia State University, Hilliard is the author of numerous books that document the contributions of African people to the world. This course, which can be attended separately, will be held on June 14 and 15 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“This mini-course is different than “A Walk in History” – but connected,” Mitchell said.

Both courses are open to high school students, college students, teachers and the general public.

“We have some students from here (Wallace), people from school systems in various counties and people from the general public attending,” Mitchell said. “This is a very exciting thing that we’re starting. We hope that it grows and continues to be a very viable avenue in terms of Selma’s rich history.”

The fees for the course are $100 for those not seeking any credits, $175 for teachers and other professionals seeking continuing education units (CEU’s) and $270 for those seeking three hours of college credits. Those obtaining college credits need to contact their college or university for policies regarding transient credits from WCCS.

The fee for the African history mini-course is $75.

Lodging is available at the 21st Century Leadership Movement Campsite. The facility has dormitory style rooms, access to a kitchen and access to a recreation area. The cost is $150 for the week.

Scholarships for the classes are available for those who qualify.

For more information, please contact Smith at (334) 418-0800.