Memorializing the Movement: Civil Rights Commemorations and America’s Ideology of Tolerance

Lecture Description

In documenting how communities in the U. S. South built monuments and museums to the modern struggle for race reform, Memorializing the Movement: Civil Rights Commemorations and America’s Ideology of Tolerance considers a variety of outcomes resulting from the public engagement with the contested past in Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and Memphis, but also Little Rock, Albany, Oxford, Greensboro, Farmville, and Washington. In many cases movement veterans initiated the drives that federal, state and local leaders took up. Funding came from public, private and corporate sources. These memorials serve as shrines for pilgrims and fuel a heritage tourism industry. Bifurcated missions celebrated civil rights victories while advocating for social change, sending out ambiguous messages. The grassroots embraced civil rights memorials as vehicles for telling local stories that had a global impact, while national leaders saw in them opportunities to promulgate international values of tolerance. Having told separate stories of southern communities using public memory to memorialize the movement, a conclusion offers analysis of an American expression of tolerance as a form of personal identity in an era of transnationalism.

CATEGORIES

Civil Rights Public History and Memory

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