Scholars & Foot Soldiers


Movement Scholars

Dr. Glenn Eskew will open up the institute with a lecture on the Movement’s religious basis in Birmingham. Dr. Eskew is a professor of history at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He is the author of But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements In the Civil Rights Struggle, which won the Southern Historical Association’s Francis Butler Simkins Prize. He will be joined in Birmingham by Dr. Robert Corley, Dr. Tara White, and Rev. Dr. Carolyn McKinstry. Dr. Corley will guide participants in a study of the economic factors surrounding the movement and the protests, sit-ins, and boycotts that severely crippled the economic systems of the city forcing leaders to broker a resolution to end practices of racial discrimination. Dr. White will enlighten leaders on the many roles of women and their un-deniable contributions to the overall success of the Modern Civil Rights Movement. Speaking from the vantage point of a youth activist, Rev. Dr. McKinstry’s personal story of triumph is nothing short of inspiring.

Rev. Dr. Carolyn McKinstry, a survivor of the Sixteenth Street Church bombing, has been featured in national and international documentaries concerning the struggle for civil rights in Birmingham. As a survivor of the church bombing, Rev. Dr. McKinstry brings a unique vantage point from which to examine the Movement and the world changing events that took place in Birmingham.  Her award winning biography, While the World Watched will paint very vivid images of life in the “most segregated city in America” during the height of the Movement as well as memories of September 15, 1963.

Dr. Hasan Jefferies, historian and author of Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt, will introduce how rural strategies and goals differed from Birmingham while in Selma.

Eminent southern historian and author of The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics, Dr. Dan Carter will join summer scholars in Montgomery to shed light on the political basis of Jim Crow violence.

Dr. Jeanne Theoharis, author of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks will contextualize the Montgomery Bus Boycott with a discussion of the orchestration of events leading up to Mrs. Parks arrest—including Mrs. Parks training at the Highland Folk School—and the subsequent boycott.

Foot Soldiers

In addition to the scholars, “Foot Soldiers” of the Movement will be invited to share their experiences and the personal resolve that inspired them to “. . . march on ‘til victory was won.

Presenters include: Mrs. Joanne Bland, a youth participant of the Selma March for the Right to Vote.  Mrs. Bland, a co-founder of the National Voting Rights Museum and director of Journey’s for the Soul, has been featured in several documentaries on the events that led to the passage of the 1965, Voting Rights Act.  She is a very engaging and dynamic speaker and shares her stories of triumph across the nation.

Once in Tuskegee summer scholars will have the opportunity to discuss the legal front of the Civil Rights Movement with Attorney Fred Gray who represented defendants in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, The Selma to Montgomery March, the Tuskegee syphilis study, and other landmark cases.

Mrs. Ruby Shuttlesworth-Bester will tell her remarkable story of overcoming injustice as the daughter of a man who was loved and hated. Mrs. Janice Kelsey, Mrs. Myrna Jackson, and Bishop Calvin Woods are all featured in the Academy Award winning documentary “The Children’s March.”  They will be joined by Mrs. Catherine Burks-Brooks, a “Freedom Rider.” Each will share their history making experiences  as they describe life under segregation and how the actions of committed and focused children  inspired our nation and ultimately broke the back of segregation in the Deep South.

Proving that justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied, former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones will share his story of successfully prosecuting a case that was 45 years old.  Mr. Jones has the distinction of delivering justice for an entire nation by his successful prosecution of the men accused of bombing the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963.  This final presentation will serve to bring us full circle in our quest for answers, meaning, justice, and understanding.