AUC Woodruff Library "Start Something" Exhibit Assignment
Creator: Dr. A. Pierre
Course Title: Spelman - African Diaspora and the World 112
For this assignment, students will visit the AUC Woodruff Library's Archives Research Center's exhibit, Start Something: Activism and the Atlanta Student Movement. Students will make critical observations of the exhibit and then respond to the following ten (10) analytical questions on the exhibit in essay form.
- The text under Separate and unequal during the 1960s section reads, “These constraints dictated where you could live, work, go to school, what hospital you could go to, where you could shop, what you could eat, where you could sit, where you could play, if you could vote, who you could date, who you could marry, what organizations you could join, and where you went to church.” For Black Atlantans this meant their economic, social, and religious life was limited to Auburn Avenue. Can you imagine living in the city and patronizing businesses, social, civic, educational, cultural and religious organizations in that part of town only as oppose to Midtown, Westside, Atlantic Station, or Buckhead? How would you feel? How do you think your counterparts who grew up and lived in the city during that period felt? Research maps of Atlanta (Auburn Avenue) and Soweto (the township where Black South Africans lived) during the 1960s. What conclusion(s) do you arrive at concerning standards of living in black neighborhoods?
- Under the If not you, then who section, in addition to Ruby Doris Smith how many Spelmanites are listed? Go to the college archives and consult the 1960 yearbook. How does it reflect the national and local sociopolitical atmosphere? What was life like on campus? What was fashionable then (clothing, hairstyle, music, cars, films, extracurricular activities, etc.) What were students concerned about? How similar or dissimilar to campus life today was it? Would you say the AUC center was a bubble keeping students away from the socioeconomic reality of southern life?
- The An appeal to human rights section includes a letter from Spelman’s president Manley to parents. If you were a parent, how would you have responded? Draft a letter to Dr. Manley.
- The It takes a village section speaks to the concerted effort of the community in support of the student-led movement. Do you find parallels in the strategies used in Alabama, South Africa and Atlanta (refer to the readings and documentary)?
- Michael Gomez talks about the key role played by the media in broadcasting the liberation movement throughout the world and the Diaspora. What images of the coverage of the movement by the three major Atlanta newspapers emerge from the exhibit? Did the reporters’ race and political affiliation color the reporting? How does it compare to the coverage of contemporary movements (#It’sBiggerThan You, #BlackLivesMatter, etc.)? Does print reporting differ from Internet-based journalism? How so?
- Under Scroll of Honor, we read that newspapers printed students’ names, ages, schools and hometowns. What was the goal? How is this similar to what happened to Fanny Lou Hamer and her family?
- Compare the placards held then (1960s) by protesters to those in more recent protests (#It’sBiggerThanYou, #BlackLivesMatter, etc.). Are there any similarities and/or differences? How has the cause and message changed?
- How would you say the activism of AUC students in the #AUCShutitDown, #It’sBiggerThanYou, and #BlackLivesMatter movements compare to the COAHR 1960-1964 mobilizing and protesting? Is one more radical than the other? Was it more dangerous to protest in the 1960s than it is today?
- How does your Spelman sister Zarinah Mustafa’s AUC Oath compare to the Appeal for Human Rights?
- If circumstances demanded it would you take the oath? Why? Why not?
☛ Learning Outcomes
Students will be able to:
⚬ Gain experience in exhibit-based research.
⚬ Gain experience in analyzing museum exhibits for historical context.
⚬ Use critical thinking skills to connect historical events to current events.
☛ Preparation for Assignment
⚬ Faculty should consult with the Archives Research Center prior to this assignment.
⚬ Proof of exhibit attendance (sign in at Archives Research Center)
⚬ Response paper to ten (10) questions regarding exhibit.
Recommended Artwork/Archival Collections:
⚬ AUC Woodruff Library's Archives Research Center's exhibit, Start Something: Activism and the Atlanta Student Movement