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History Professor's Innovative Class on Civil Rights Movement Takes Students on a Journey Through the American South

May 19, 2009

Professor Steven Collins  
Professor Steven Collins

Steven Collins, professor of history on STLCC’s Meramec campus spent last fall traveling the American South to develop a three-week class and traveling seminar on the American Civil Rights Movement. “This three-week seminar will put    St. Louis Community College on the cutting-edge of Civil Rights Studies in St. Louis,” said Collins. “I have talked with several colleagues at other area colleges and universities who are universally enthusiastic about the project.

During week one, students will be in class on the Meramec campus and will focus on the major events during the Civil Rights Movement, giving them the necessary context for the traveling portion of the class. Beginning in week two, the class will embark on a 14-day tour of key historical sites, including museums, churches, cultural centers and universities. At each site, scholars, museum curators and, most importantly, Civil Rights Movement participants will discuss the movement in their city or region. Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; the Mississippi Delta; Jackson, Mississippi; Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham, Alabama are included on the tour.

Collins explained that students will also be required to read both primary and secondary literature to give them the proper background knowledge to understand the context and significance of each area visited. Major movies, musical influences, and architectural vernacular will also be examined.

According to Collins, the goal of the program is to give participants an in-depth analysis of the African American struggle for civil rights, the focus of one of the most important social movements in American history. The tour is designed to increase knowledge of civil rights history, help create an understanding of the struggles that African Americans endured to gain equality, and encourage an understanding of cultural diversity.