Athens, Ga.- The University of Georgia’s Honors Program and Libraries are co-sponsoring a private showing of an exhibit showcasing the personal papers from the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection at the Atlanta History Center. Alumni and friends of both programs have been invited to attend the Feb. 15 event.
Approximately 25 UGA Honors students will serve as hosts for the viewing of the I Have A Dream exhibit now on display through May at the Atlanta History Center. The private showing also will include rarely seen film, documentary footage and other materials on King from the special collections of the UGA Libraries.
The idea for the event came from Sheffield Hale, a UGA Honors graduate in history and immediate past chair of the Atlanta Historical Society, which owns and operates the Atlanta History Center.
“I wanted to connect the significance of the King papers with education, and in this case, the Honors students who will be participating in the event,” said Hale, who serves on the advisory board for the Honors Program and as a trustee of the UGA Arch Foundation. “The exhibit also gives us an opportunity to showcase the research in the civil rights movement era being conducted by Honors Program students with the extensive collection and largely untapped television news footage owned by the university from WSB-TV in Atlanta and WALB-TV in Albany.”
One of the rare historic artifacts of the UGA collection is an interview with King by the late independent producer Arnold Michaelis, conducted on an airplane to Atlanta and then in King’s home in December 1965. The King piece is part of a collection of audio, film and videotaped interviews of political and cultural figures conducted by Michaelis that he donated to the UGA Libraries’ Media Archives in 1996.
Other materials to be on display at the event are from UGA’s Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, including editorial cartoons depicting King’s life and legacy by Clifford Baldowski, the late editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Film footage of King, Ralph Abernathy, and Rosa Parks at the 25th anniversary of the Highlander Folk School, a center that promoted social and economic justice, will be shown.
“This is a special opportunity to work with the Atlanta History Center and the Honors Program to share some unique materials from our collections,” said William Potter, university librarian and associate provost at UGA. “It will be a real treat for guests to hear directly from Honors students who have worked with these primary materials for various projects.”
Courtney Thomas, an environmental economic and management major from Columbus, is one of those students who has been involved in civil rights research since she started at UGA last year. As a research apprentice through UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, Thomas has been working with Barbara McCaskill, an associate professor of English at UGA, to create Web-based educational content about the civil rights movement in Georgia using news footage from that era.
“It is important for students to become involved in this kind of research that enables them to apply their knowledge to the creation of tools that will help other students and teachers,” said McCaskill, who will make a brief presentation with Thomas at the alumni event.
In addition to research, Thomas and other Honors students have participated in a book discussion group this semester facilitated by David Williams, director of UGA’s Honors Program. They read A Testament of Hope: the Essential Writings and Speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. as part of the book discussion program the Honors Program recently implemented.
“The students were extraordinarily engaged and I would easily rank it among the best interactions I’ve had with students,” said Williams. “They had of course all heard of the essentials of Dr. King’s teachings concerning justice, non-violence and peace before they read the book, but they were energized by their collective discovery of the depth of his thought and its continuing importance.”
Brian Levy, one of the book discussion participants, related his career plans to King’s thoughts on justice and fairness. “I hope to serve as a strong policy advocate for all impoverished Americans,” said Levy, a senior sociology and religion major from Valdosta. “My experiences have taught me that there are many underserved segments of our population facing both personal problems and public challenges. I am strongly committed to addressing these issues through dedicated policy work that reflects the values of fairness, equality and justice that King and others espoused.”
Thomas also believes her educational experiences at UGA have prepared her well for the future. “I am often in awe of the experiences I have had and the connections I have made through being an Honors student and a CURO apprentice,” said Thomas, a first-generation college student. “I would have never imagined that during my time at UGA, that one night I would have dinner and discuss books at the home of the director of the Honors Program and that in the following week, I would stand before distinguished UGA alumni and discuss my research and how the Honors Program has greatly impacted my life.”
For more information on the Martin Luther King, Jr. exhibit at the Atlanta History Center, visit www.atlantahistorycenter.org.
For more information on UGA’s Honors Program, visit www.uga.edu/honors.
For more information on the UGA Libraries and its special collections, visit www.libs.uga.edu.