Campus News

Students will tour civil rights sites as part of new Gwinnett May term speech communications course

UGA will offer a new speech communications May term course focusing on the rhetoric of the civil rights movement at the Gwinnett University Center in Lawrenceville, where UGA ­offers bachelor’s and master’s degree ­programs.

The course, Case Studies in Public Communication, includes a four-day tour of many of historic Civil Rights Trail locations in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee where struggles for integration took place. The trip is timed to coincide with the 43rd anniversary of the Freedom Rides and the 50th anniversary of the ­Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

The class meets May 12-June 3, with the Civil Rights Trail tour scheduled May 21-24. Students enrolled in the course will travel more than 1,500 miles on a rolling classroom tour to Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma, Ala.; Meridian, Philadelphia and ­Jackson, Miss.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Atlanta. Along the way, several foot soldiers of the civil rights movement will speak to the students.

Rita Van Zant, speech communication instructor with UGA at Gwinnett, created the course.

“I have always wanted to combine the study of rhetoric with the actual historic environment in which the oratory took place,” she says. “This trip should help students gain a better understanding of the power of persuasive rhetoric in a social movement and how this knowledge can inspire and dare us to be bold in confronting the challenges of today.”

The class will meet Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. at the Gwinnett University Center and is open both to students enrolled in UGA programs at Gwinnett and to students enrolled on the Athens campus. Students will pay tuition and fees for the May session plus an additional fee for the four-day, three-night tour. On the trip, students will be responsible for the cost of their lunch and dinner and any incidental personal expenses.

“I am extremely excited about participating in a class that is so hands-on,” says Erin Kelly, a UGA at Gwinnett student who plans to take the May term class. “I look forward to traveling with Georgia students to the actual locations where major events of the civil rights movement occurred.”

Reginald L. Moss, an education program specialist with UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at Gwinnett, will co-host the trip.

“UGA students may use this class to meet both their cultural diversity and multicultural course requirements,” says Moss, “but they should enroll early because class size is limited.”