Civil Rights era legends and sites are transformative

Civil Rights era legends and sites are transformative for Lewis history professor

Published: June 27, 2011.

A U.S. Department of Education Teaching American History grant recently funded a Civil Rights field study trip for 25 school teachers, faculty and museum specialists to Memphis, Tenn., Selma and Birmingham, Ala., June 12 – 18, 2011. Dr. Dennis H. Cremin, associate professor of history at Lewis University in Romeoville and director of the Lewis University History Center, was among the trip participants.

“Being involved with the Teaching American History grant for the past three years has been among the richest educational experiences I have ever had,” commented Cremin.

In the summer of 2010, the group studied the Civil Rights movement in the context of Washington, D.C.

This summer the group made its way through the South to focus on the American Civil Rights Movement, especially the monumental events of the 1960s. Site highlights included: the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery and Sloss Furnace National Historic Landmark in Birmingham. The educators visited historic sites, monuments, museums and even walked through a cemetery where 19th century slaves are buried and later that same day, walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, a place that became pivotal to the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The teachers talked with Amelia Boynton Robinson and Solomon Seay, Jr., both key figures in the fight for equality.

“The trip was designed to provide K-12 history teachers with an immersive, up-close look at the material culture that provides a glimpse into this significant era of American History. These opportunities provided the teachers with a new vantage point and perspective on the Civil Rights Movement. The trip was inspiring and for many, transformational,” commented Donna Sack, Teaching American History project director. The grant is administered by Naper Settlement and the Naperville Heritage Society on behalf of a consortium of school districts, led by Indian Prairie Community Unit School District 204 and in partnership with North Central College.

Lewis University is a Catholic university offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,000 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares ethically grounded, globally aware, and socially responsible graduates. The ninth largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.

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