New Web site launched for civil rights project cofounded by UGA faculty

Athens, Ga. – Research including more than 60 video interviews with civil rights figures and leading public officials from Georgia and around the country is showcased on a new Web site for the Foot Soldier Project (FSP) for Civil Rights Studies (www.fsp.uga.edu).

Cofounded in 2000 by University of Georgia faculty Maurice C. Daniels, who has been named dean of the School of Social Work effective July 1, and Derrick P. Alridge, associate professor of education, the FSP seeks to illuminate, through oral history and documentary filmmaking, the social activism of unsung participants of the American civil rights movement.

In 2001, the FSP forged a partnership with the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, a modern political archive at UGA. This partnership established the Russell Library as the official repository for materials created and gathered by the FSP. Today, the FSP faculty has grown to include faculty from a broad spectrum of scholarly interests.

The Web site was developed by the Research Media service center (a department within UGA’s Office of the Vice President for Research), the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies and members of the Foot Soldier Project. The FSP Web site will be hosted by UGA’s Research Computing Center and its content will be maintained by the Russell Library.

OVPR fostered this collaboration as a way to provide the FSP with a strong visible presence on the Internet to help in raising external funding to support the further development of the FSP. Gordhan Patel, vice president for research, provided funds to enable the Russell Library, the official repository for FSP, to purchase the equipment required to manage the access and preservation of FSP’s growing collections.

“The FSP Web site also includes the Foot Soldier curriculum that will provide lesson plans, bibliographical information and access to primary research materials for K-12 students,” said Alridge. “A critical component of the Foot Soldier Project is our effort to reach and educate children about the contributions of the many ordinary people who participated in the civil rights movement and social justice activities. The Foot Soldier curriculum link to the Web site is a work in progress, and we will be collaborating with K-12 teachers in its development.”

In 2001, Daniels completed a book chronicling the story of Horace T. Ward and other notable foot soldiers in the struggle to desegregate UGA. The Web site will feature research from Daniels’ book and from documentaries produced by the project, including material on Ward and fellow federal judges Constance Baker Motley and William Bootle; attorneys Donald Hollowell and Vernon Jordan; Hamilton Holmes, one of the first students to desegregate UGA; former U.S. Sen. Herman Talmadge; former Georgia Gov. Ernest Vandiver; Congressman John Lewis; Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham and Julian Bond. Currently, the site provides several excerpts from video interviews with Hollowell, Bootle, Talmadge and others and transcripts of interviews with Holmes and Ward.

Since founding the FSP, Daniels and Alridge have developed courses on the civil rights era in the School of Social Work and College of Education and are forging collaborative efforts with various programs throughout the university to facilitate such scholarship.

“This is a true interdisciplinary effort,” Daniels said. “We have already involved faculty, students and staff from many disciplines around campus and individuals around the state and nation who are interested in becoming involved in the project.”

In addition to access to audio-visual materials, photographs and papers, there are links to related projects.

“A project such as the FSP is long overdue,” Alridge said. “Institutions such as Duke and UCLA have had major oral and documentary history projects for some time.”

Daniels and Alridge are also proposing a collaborative effort with the qualitative research program in the College of Education to train students across the disciplines in methods of conducting and interpreting oral history.

“The Unsung Foot Soldiers Project is designed to recover and preserve lost or forgotten individuals in civil rights history whose courageous actions, while heretofore undocumented, nevertheless constituted significant contributions to the work of social transformation and the pursuit of social justice,” Daniels said. “The goal of these endeavors is to participate in shaping social reform and public policy throughout the state and nation, and specifically to play a key role in developing policy related to diversity and equity.”

In addition to Daniels and Alridge, the FSP research faculty includes:

* Dwight D. Brooks, associate professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at UGA
* Vicky Crawford, associate professor of history at Clark Atlanta University
* Cheryl Dozier, associate professor of social work at UGA
* Tracey D. Ford, assistant dean of students at UGA
* Amy Gellins, attorney and executive director of the Athens Justice Project
* R. Baxter Miller, professor of English and director of the Institute for African American Studies at UGA
* Sheryl Vogt, director of the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
* Jill Severn, access and outreach archivist at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies