“The Problem of the Color Line: Atlanta Landmarks and Civil Rights History,” a workshop for elementary through high school teachers
July 13-19 and July 20-26
Atlanta’s historic sites may not be able to speak, but thanks to Georgia State history professor Timothy Crimmins, they have a voice.
Crimmins and fellow Georgia State faculty members Glenn Eskew and Akinyele Umoja are leading “The Problem of the Color Line: Atlanta Landmarks and Civil Rights History,” a workshop for elementary through high school teachers.
Participants in the workshop, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will visit several sites in Atlanta key to the civil rights movement, attend lectures by faculty from Georgia State and other area schools, and meet with those who participated in the demonstrations that characterized the struggle for equality. At the Fox Theatre, one of the sites on the landmarks tour, participants will enter the venue twice — through the main entrance, once reserved for white patrons, and through the back entrance previously used for black theatergoers. As time moves away from the days of segregation, it’s a rare chance to better understand the social and political climate of the past.
“The understanding of how the color line functioned and what the civil rights movement was protesting against begins to fade,” Crimmins says. “Going through the Fox Theatre and seeing it from the standpoint of the white patrons who have come to the theatre and then to go and see what it was like for African-Americans who would have gone there is a great revelatory experience for many of the teachers.”
Throughout the course of the weeklong workshop, now in its second year, participating teachers put together lesson plans using Atlanta’s historic landmarks to teach their students about the civil rights movement. The teachers also share project ideas with each other long after the workshop is over through a special Web site.
“For me, the purpose of preservation is so the history that the sites represent can be told,” Crimmins says. “We have just an incredible number of sites here in Atlanta that tell a very important chapter of American history, and so having been involved in the preservation of these sites, now is a chance to use these sites to teach history.”