Teachers in the Movement

by Lynn Bell

The American civil rights movement has been examined from many angles, and one of the more extensive archives of regional civil rights scholarship has been compiled by The Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies at the University of Georgia.  The Foot Soldier Project, an oral history and film documentary endeavor, chronicles the lives and stories of unknown and unsung activists of the civil rights movement.

Derrick AlridgeDerrick P. Alridge, a founder and co-director of the Foot Soldier Project, has now joined the Curry School faculty in the social foundations of education program. He is gearing up for an undertaking that will combine his scholarly interests in civil rights studies and African American education with the history of his new home state.

His latest project, to be called Teachers in the Movement, will focus on Virginia educators who participated in civil rights activities in and outside the classroom between the 1940s and the present. “Civil rights historiography is very sparse on the topic of teacher activists during this period,” Alridge said. “This area is ripe for study, and the Curry School and U.Va. should be a center of such study.”

Beginning this spring, Alridge and a team of graduate research assistants will begin conducting professionally filmed interviews. His goal is to complete more than 50 interviews by the end of summer 2012. He eventually plans to pull together some of those interviews into a documentary film, similar to Donald L. Hollowell: Foot Soldier for Equal Justice, for which he served as senior researcher and executive director in Georgia.

Prior to joining the Curry faculty, Alridge was professor of education and director and professor in the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia. He served as the Carter G. Woodson Distinguished Lecturer for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and associate editor of The Journal of African American History. Alridge also was a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. The magazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education named him one of 10 rising stars in the U.S.

His latest book, The Educational Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: An Intellectual History, was the topic of his talk at the 2012 Walter N. Ridley Distinguished Speaker Series, where Alridge was the featured lecturer earlier this month.