above: Luke Anderson, Gordon's eighth grade humanities teacher
The eighth grade Civil Rights Trip to Alabama and Georgia is a journey that draws in the whole community. Parents absorb the stories from their children. Teachers from every corner of the school serve as chaperones. Alumni bring the experience to their high schools (and beyond). And whenever younger students touch on civil rights history in class, their teachers remind them about the in-depth, up-close experience they'll have in eighth grade.
The nineteenth annual trip will begin at 4:00am on Monday, March 2nd, and parents, faculty, students, alumni and members of the extended family left at home will follow along on Gordon's social media and the daily updates posted at www.gordonschool.org/civilrights
As an aid to those of us following along at home, Mr. Anderson has collected a sampling of the videos, podcasts and readings he's immersed himself in as he planned this year's trip.
If next week is the exam, these are Mr. Anderson's study notes:
A major theme in this year's trip will be how different histories of the South compete and, sometimes, sit side by side in today's South.
That will come alive in Newnan, GA, our first stop on Monday. A town-wide collaboration led to the installation of seventeen large-scale photos by Providence photographer (and Gordon parent) Mary Beth Meehan. A recent New York Times front page story described how this art has forced the town to take a hard look at its history and make-up. We'll be visiting Newnan and meeting with locals who worked with Mary Beth. New York Times coverage of this work Mary Beth's own site
Uncivil Podcast: This won a Peabody Award last year and this episode is full of compelling examples of how the history of the Civil War has been distorted. Warning: there are some bad words here! And this was not shared as part of class. But it is a great primer on the idea of competing Southern histories.
When we talked about the Freedom Riders and how they were attacked in Montgomery and the subsequent siege of the First Baptist Church by a white mob, we played a short clip from this Bryan Stevenson interview with Terry Gross where he talks about how Montgomery hasn’t fully grappled with its Confederate past. It starts at about 10:30.
We talk about lynching a fair amount in class, which prepares us for our visit to Bryan Stephenson's Equal Justice Initiative. This seven minute video produced by EJI, on a lynching memorial they erected in Abbeville, SC, is a powerful piece that drives home the lasting trauma of lynching and the need for truth and reconciliation.
A few more recommendations:
White Lies is an NPR podcast about the murder of James Reeb in Selma in 1965 several days after Bloody Sunday. Joanne Bland, who is featured prominently, has been our tour guide in past years.
Ms. Buchanan's Period of Adjustment A great piece we used in class on the Brown v Board of Education school desegregation decision, and its unintended consequences. From Malcolm Gladwell's podcast.
Reconstruction: America After the Civil War is a great documentary produced by Henry Louis Gates, Jr that aired last April. We've watched some of this in class.
Also you can always watch Eyes on the Prize to brush up on your Civil Rights Movement history--they're all on YouTube! We watched clips from this series in class throughout February.