Civil Rights Seminar
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- Explore frameworks, concepts, models, and examples from the Civil Rights Movement that individual students can utilize as they grapple with the courageous, difficult, and complex history of race relations in the United States
- Encourage and foster a "beloved community" at BYU
- Provide students with knowledge, skills, resources, personal connections, and networks necessary to participate in dialogues and efforts to improve race relations
- Diligent Student
- This seminar is a class where diligent effort is required. Students are expected to come to class well-prepared, having completed their weekly assignments, and ready to engage in meaningful dialogue.
- Engaged Participant
- This seminar will consist of a group of diverse individuals who will engage with the topics of racial inequality and the Civil Rights Movement. Because of the weight of these topics, students are expected to communicate with respect, compassion, and honesty.
- Active Citizen
- This seminar is designed for students to develop an informed perspective on racial inequality and the Civil Rights Movement. With this understanding, students will be more prepared to cultivate racial equality within their everyday interactions, among their friends and families, and throughout their broader communities.
Students in this course will be introduced to major events, historical themes, people, places, and strategies in the African American Civil Rights Movement. As we explore Black Americans' long struggle for racial equality, we will pay particular attention to the events of the 1950s and early 1960s.
Students will have the opportunity to tour important historical sites related to movement history in Georgia and Alabama. Students will also have opportunities to visit museums that document civil rights history and listen to and talk with individuals who participated in the movement.
The nature of the experience is subject to change each year as the availability of people, places, and events are subject to both the BYU academic calendar and the schedules and circumstances of individuals, visitor centers, and organizations in Georgia/Alabama.
In the past, the seminar has featured the following highlights:
- Pre- and post-seminar reunions and gatherings
- In-depth classroom discussions of the history of the Civil Rights Movement and a dialogue about its modern-day implications and ramifications
- Tour of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and his birth home in Atlanta, GA
- Tour of Kelly Ingram Park, which was important site during the 1963 Birmingham "Children's Crusade"
- Tour of the 16th Street Baptist Church
- Tour of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
- Tour of the Rosa Parks Museum
- Tour of the The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and The Legacy Museum
- Sunday participation with one of the historically black church congregations in the area
- Visiting Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma
- Possible collaboration, participation, and cultural exchange with another group of students from another university. Past experiences have included the following; Ohio University ('12 and '13), and Marietta College ('14), and tour of Morehouse/Spelman campuses with Clark Atlanta University student ('18).
- Dinner and conversation with LDS Atlanta ward members
- Private meetings with:
- Martin Luther King Jr.'s barber
- One of the original Freedom Riders
- A participant in the 1963 Birmingham "Children's Crusade"
- A white pastor of an all black-congregation, and his wife, in Montgomery. He worked with King and other local leaders during the Montgomery Bus Boycott and was a neighbor and pastor to Rosa Parks.
- Minimum Requirements:
- Be registered as a daytime-continuing student at BYU for the Winter semester
- Complete application by deadline
- Acceptance considerations:
- Not all applicants will have the opportunity to be interviewed
- Seminar administrators will select applicants for interviews to make some determinations regarding the applicants':
- Connection to, interest in, and/or understanding of African-American history in the United States, particularly as it relates to the Civil Rights movement
- Interest in and potential for actively participating in community building and mentorship
- Commitment to the Seminar as an academic experience
- Commitment to generating, facilitating, and participating in dialogue about potentially sensitive matters in a forthright, thoughtful, courteous, and constructive manner
- Gender ratios must be taken into account to ensure appropriate and cost-effective hotel accommodations
- Class standing will also be factored into the final decision, because it impacts:
- The number of times a student will have future opportunities to participate should they not be selected
- The amount of time to serve in, or be served by, a mentoring relationship.
- October 1
- The application is due by 11:59 pm without exception
- November or December (post admission notification)
- Striving to create a "beloved community" amongst Seminar faculty, administrators, and students, at least one informal social gathering will be organized to invite participants past and present.
- Winter Semester (Fridays)
- Class will take place each Friday (time and room number to be determined). To facilitate conversation and make allowance for processing the material, class will last 1 hour and 15 minutes. Conflicts with other classes, even for small overlaps, will disqualify students from participating.
- Attendance will factor heavily into the final grade, and so every necessary preparation is required to not only ensure no class periods are missed, but also promptness and full attendance for each class period.
- March 14-18
- We anticipate leaving Thursday evening and returning late Monday night. Specific departure and arrival times are to be determined.
- Early April
- Similar to the late-Fall gathering, Seminar faculty, administrators, and students past and present will be invited to an informal gathering.
The Civil Rights Seminar is made possible by the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, which covers the entire cost of participants' airfare, hotels, and transportation, as well as some meals. Students are responsible for the following remaining expenses, which will most likely include, but are not limited to:
- Lunches & Snacks (estimated at $10/day)
- Dinners (estimated at $20/day when dinners are not provided)
- Gift for presenters, hosts, etc.
- $5 - $10
- Entrance fees to museums, historic sites, etc.
- Approximately $40
- Class texts
- Civil Rights Chronicle: The African-American Struggle for Freedom (required) by Clayborne Carson
- Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement (required) by John Lewis
- The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks (recommended) by Jeanne Theoharis
- Remaining texts and materials as determined (generally available electronically)
- Personal souvenirs
Seminar administrators do not want financial concerns to be an impediment to participation. If a student is admitted and the information outlined above seems prohibitive, please contact the Seminar at
Application & Selection Timeline:
The seminar application will become available August 1. The application must be completed in its entirety by 11:59 p.m. on October 1. Applications submitted by the deadline and that demonstrate minimum eligibility will be reviewed for interview consideration. Applicants selected for interviews will meet with 2 or more Seminar faculty/administrators. The applicants who are ultimately selected for the Seminar will be determined by:
- The number of applications received
- The number of eligible applicants
- Interview insights and information
- Group dynamics
- Program logistics.
Final decisions for all applicants, regardless of interview status, will be communicated by November 15.
Although unique, the Civil Rights Seminar is not the only way to learn more about the Civil Rights movement and its impact and to better comprehend the history of race relations. Regardless of whether or not you have an opportunity to participate in the Seminar, you are encouraged to explore classes and other opportunities in
Multicultural Student Services, and
Sociology. Specific course offerings include, but are not limited to:
- ANTHRO 330 Peoples of Africa
- David Crandall
- EDLF 362 Intro to International Dev Ed
- Macleans Geo-Jaja
- ENGL 495 sec 005 Senior Course: Contemporary African American Literature
- Kristin Matthews
- GEOG 285 Africa South of the Sahara
- Jeffrey Durrant
- HIST 367 Slavery in the U.S.
- Matt Mason
- HIST 383 African-American History, 1865 to Present
- Rebecca DeSchweinitz
- IAS 221 Intro to Africana Studies
- Matt Mason and Rex Nielson
- IHUM 490R Seminar in the Humanities
- Robert Colson
- MUSIC 204 Introduction to Jazz
- Steve Call
- SOC 323 Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
- Jacob Rugh and Ryan Gabriel
If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the Civil Rights seminar application or process, please send an email to:
Click here for the Civil Rights Seminar Application