Memphis, Tennessee: Beyond Graceland

I will be spending a week as part of the Civil Rights Seminar, of the Gilder Lehrman Institute which is taking place at Rhodes College and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. For a week, 35 History teachers have gathered together to learn from academic experts, museum educators as well as social justice activists. It has been a privilege to experience such a steep learning curve and I feel immensely grateful to be in the position to learn from the best.

The types of discussion we have had this week involve the aims and goals of the Civil Rights movement. In addition, we examined exactly when the movement started, acknowledging it as a point of historic debate. Although scholars traditionally point to a cluster of events between 1954-55 with the issuance of the Supreme Court’s Brown vs Board of Education case, it is often considered to have started when the Trans-atlantic Slave Trade began! When it ended is even more difficult to say. The signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965? The assassination of MLK in 1968? The election of Obama in 2008? Or is it still ongoing?

In addition, it is crucial to understand that the movement differed based on geography, and based on the contributions of local people who organised, preached, petitioned, supplied, drove, and registered to vote in their communities.

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