Civil Rights Road Map

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Follow us along our route – we’ll be adding pictures, oral histories, reflections and more from the road. Click on pins in the map to see what we’re up to. For a more in-depth view of our trip and the highlights included here, we invite you to read more on this blog.

In May 2012, The Girls’ School of Austin’s 8th grade will embark on an eight day civil rights road trip through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. We’ve spent the past two months studying the civil rights movement in our 7th/8th grade Humanities class, and this is our chance to see some of the places we’ve learned about and meet some of the people we’ve talked about in person.

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Images from the road

For a compilation of pictures from our 2012 civil rights road trip, check out our Flickr album here.

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Rims Barber on creating change

An excerpt from our interview with Rev. Rims Barber. Conducted May 20, 2012 at Barber’s office in Jackson, MS.

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Thank yous from Boston to Birmingham

Our 2012 Civil Rights Road Trip wouldn’t have been possible without help from many people all across the country:

In preparing for the trip, GSA teacher and advisor Frances Ramberg helped lead our discussion of “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” She also introduced us to her mom, Mary Ramberg, who spoke with our class about civil rights activism in Mississippi in the 1970s. Before we departed, Jayne Guberman provided invaluable guidance on how the girls might prepare for their oral history interviews. She also introduced us to the amazing Carol Wise, who toured us through New Orleans, offering her insights on how issues of class and race affected the city’s recovery from Katrina. Thanks to Ronald Lewis at the House of Dance and Feathers for allowing us to visit his museum and educating us about the Mardi Gras Indians and the history of the Ninth Ward.

In Jackson, Rev. Rims Barber and Judy Barber kindly agreed to an interview for our oral history project and also put us in touch with many of the people we ended up visiting. Dr. Daphne Chamberlain, from the COFO Civil Rights Education Center, spent almost a full day with us, showing us around the city, introducing us to COFO, and educating the girls about civil rights history in Jackson. Before our visit, Dr. Robert Luckett, director of the the Margaret Walker Center, provided us with many helpful contacts. Once in Jackson, Dr. Luckett graciously provided us with an impromptu tour of the museum and even let us visit the vault that houses the archives. Dr. Stuart Rockoff and his wife, Susan, hosted us for dinner and the girls loved meeting their daughters and roaming the neighborhood catching fireflies with the “girl gang.” Many thanks also to Minnie Watson for hosting us at the Medgar Evers Home Museum.

In Montgomery, Judge Myron Thompson was extremely generous with his time, participating in our oral history project and showing us his courtroom. Thanks to Sheila Carnes for her fantastic tour of the courthouse and to David Owens for arranging the details of our visit. A special thank you to Jean Zachariasiewicz for setting up our visit to the court and for her many excellent suggestions about what to do and who to see in Montgomery.

One of the most memorable events of our trip was our conversation with Lisa Ann Williamson of Teaching Tolerance at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Many thanks to the SPLC’s Lecia Brooks for arranging our visit there.

Georgette Norman, director of the Rosa Parks Museum on the campus of Troy University, was supposed to meet us briefly before we toured the museum. She ended up spending a full hour with us, leading a wide-ranging conversation that gave important context to our understanding not just of the museum but of civil rights issues in general.

Finally, thanks to everyone at the National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture at Alabama State University, especially Gwen Boyd, who arranged our visit there. Thank you to Rev. Robert Graetz and Jeannie Graetz for speaking with us about their courageous work during the Montgomery Bus Boycott and afterward.

In Birmingham, Laura Anderson provided us with a useful tour of the archives at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Thanks also to Catherine ConnorAlan Head and Waights Taylor, Jr., for their suggestions and for their contacts in Birmingham.

Our visit to Memphis wouldn’t have been nearly as meaningful without Dr. Laurie Green at UT-Austin, who provided us with tons of great ideas and contacts there. Thanks to Laura Helper-Ferris for meeting with us at The Arcade to talk about the intersection of race and music in Memphis, and for introducing us to Tad Pierson and American Dream Safari.

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Rims Barber remembers Freedom Summer

Rev. Rims Barber looks back on his first impressions of Mississippi. Barber first came to the state in 1964. He and his wife, Judy, spoke with us on May 20, 2012 at their office in Jackson, MS.

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Judge Myron Thompson on why diversity matters

This interview was conducted May 22, 2012, in Judge Thompson’s chambers in Montgomery, AL.

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Judge Myron Thompson on being black at Yale in the 60s

Luiza interviews Judge Myron Thompson about what it was like to be black at Yale in the mid-1960s. Here, he describes transitioning from an all-black to an all-white environment. The interview was conducted May 22, 2012, in Judge Thompson’s chambers in Montgomery, AL.

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American Dream Safari

American Dream Safari

To get a feel for Memphis and to learn more about the intersection of race and music, we hopped into Tad Pierson’s 1955 Cadillac for his amazing American Dream Safari. Our conversation touched on everything from the changing demographics of Memphis to the role of blues and rock & roll in making whites more receptive to the civil rights movement to why Elvis was bullied as a kid. We’ll post pictures from the ride, as well as more pics from our other travels in the coming days.

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