This mini-term will teach students about the most transformative social movement of the 20th century and the way that movement has been commemorated. Our class, HST 277T, travels throughout the South visiting sites of major civil rights actions. The trip takes us from Charleston, S.C., through Atlanta, Ga.; Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham, Ala.; Memphis, Tenn.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Jackson, Miss; and finally into New Orleans, La. Along the way, we stop at the iconic sites of the movement and meet with a number of its participants.
Course of Study
Our journey begins in Charleston, where we consider the background of the movement. We tour historic sites, among them a slave mart, plantations with original slave cabins and Sullivan’s Island, a slave trade port that is sometimes called the African-American "Ellis Island" because it is estimated that 40 percent of African-Americans today have ancestors who came to the U.S. on slave ships through this port. Our visit to Charleston allows us to explore the first three centuries of African-American history and the early emergence of resistance.
The next two-and-a-half weeks will be spent traveling by tour bus to such sites as Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and Parsonage in Montgomery, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spearheaded the Montgomery Bus Boycott; the Pettus Bridge in Selma, where 600 civil rights marchers were attacked with clubs and tear gas in 1965; and Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, where police and firemen turned police dogs and fire hoses on demonstrators, many of them children. We visit the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, and to Little Rock Central High School, where the attempt at integration resulted in riots and the National Guard was called out twice – once to keep out the "Little Rock Nine."
We meet with a number of civil rights veterans. Among the people we met on our 2009 trip were a freedom rider who was beaten by a Klan mob when he attempted to integrate a Greyhound Bus Station, a reverend who was close ally of Dr. King and a major civil rights leader, a woman who marched across the Pettus Bridge on "Bloody Sunday" and two of the Little Rock Nine. Ending in New Orleans, we consider both the enormous successes and the persistent limits of the heroic struggles of the Civil Rights Movement.
To be eligible to participate in international programs, the student must:
- Complete the application process, which includes an essay specific to this mini-term.
- Meet the minimum language requirement (if any) as specified in the program description.
- Successfully have completed two courses at Union College the term before their term abroad program.
- Be in good academic standing and have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 for the term before the program.
- Have an overall cumulative average of 2.5 at the time of application.
- Students who are interested in the scholarship must fill out the scholarship application form.
Students will be required to complete the following reading before the beginning of the mini-term:
- John Lewis, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement
- Juan Williams, Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965
- Any additional documents, as distributed by lead faculty
(For specific dates, contact the International Programs Office, Old Chapel, Third Floor.)
April: Application deadline is the third Friday of spring term.
- May: Non-refundable deposit due at the Cashier's Office in McKean House, and receipt brought to the International Programs Office
- Fall term: Orientation meetings
- Late November: Mini-term begins
- Mid-December: Program ends
For More Information
Students may contact Melinda Lawson
. You can also read about the program in this Civil Rights Public History Mini-Term Article
or the blog
created by the first group of student participants.