Recovering the lost voices of the Atlanta Student Movement

Recovering the lost voices of the Atlanta Student Movement

The Kennesaw State professor behind “And Others” seeks to recover the lost voices and stories of the Atlanta Student Movement.

“And Others” is a video documentary being produced by KSU professor Dr. Jeanne Bohannon under the KSU-based public community engagement project called “Democracy Doesn’t Run on Cruise Control.” It is about the people that participated in the struggle to desegregate lunch counters in Atlanta during the 1960s.

The documentary will feature a collection of first-hand accounts from members of the ASM. The Rich Foundation granted the English department $100,000 to record “And Others” and conduct research into documents that substantiate and contextualize the stories of the participants.

The overall project, “Democracy Doesn’t Run on Cruise Control,” also includes the creation of a publicly-accessible archive of the research and testimonies, as well as interactive history lessons centered on the gathered information.

The lessons will be provided to social studies teachers in the Atlanta Public School system and other metro area school districts.

Bohannon started the project with the goal of recovering the stories of the participants of the ASM — a movement that played a major yet overlooked role in shaping the civil rights movement in the South, according to Bohannon.

“Democracy Doesn’t Run on Cruise Control” is a collaboration between the Department of English, the UITS Video Production and Broadcast Services, the University Archives and stakeholders within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The project will encompass multiple platforms as it delivers a public narrative about every aspect of the ASM.

Bohannon started the project in spring 2016 as a result of conversations with her grandmother, a former employee of Rich’s Department Store during the 1960s. After listening to her personal account of the sit-in at the department store cafeteria, Dr. Bohannon set out to recover other extraordinary stories at-risk of being lost to time.

According to Bohannon, time is a crucial factor in the production of “And Other” as the Civil Rights veterans enter advanced stages of their lives. 2017 marks the 57th year since the sit-ins and boycotts took place, and more voices are permanently lost with each passing month.

Bohannon cites senior community partner Dr. Lonnie King as responsible for the name of the project. Bohannon said working with partners such as King and different organizations on campus, as well as a diverse research team of both faculty and students, has motivated her to continue work on the project.

A substantial amount of work is still to be done by Bohannon and her team. According to Bohannon, nearly 15 people still need to be interviewed, and her team is currently scouring the country for physical and digital sources of information. The project is set to be completed in approximately two years.

As the project continues to recover and document the experiences and stories of the ASM, updates will be posted on twitter under the handle @KennesawEnglish. Students looking for more information on the project may also email Dr. Bohannon directly at jbohan12@kennesaw.edu.

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