As FIU’s football team prepares to play in the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama, this week, a group of FIU students will be studying civil rights history through the lens of this historic city’s museums and public spaces.
A group of about 60 students left Miami by bus Thursday morning to participate in the Civil Rights Public History Fellowship, a learning experience where they will visit sites and museums of historic significance in Montgomery.
On Friday, students will begin their day at the Dexter Avenue Memorial Baptist Church, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. served as pastor. The church is known for its role in the civil rights movement – notably as the location where planning meetings for the Montgomery bus boycott took place. Students also will visit the Rosa Parks Museum, the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. On Saturday, the students will attend the Camellia Bowl, where the FIU Panthers will play the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
“At FIU we know that the best learning experiences are lived experiences,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “We are leveraging our participation in the Camellia Bowl to provide a learning experience to our students that brings the history, public spaces and significance of Montgomery to life. We are grateful for the support and collaboration of the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and Camellia Bowl organizers in this learning endeavor.”
Students who participate will have an opportunity to earn a micro-credential, or digital badge, on the skills associated with evaluating objects, museums and spaces as markers of historical narrative, heritage, and social conflict. Students can share their earned digital badges on their resumes and LinkedIn accounts to demonstrate the skills they have learned. The micro-credential was designed by faculty members in the FIU Department of History, part of the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs, and will be facilitated by a senior fellow in the school.
Junior Japheth Kariuki-Ebanks, who is pursuing a finance degree and a certificate in African Studies, sees the trip to Montgomery as an opportunity to deepen his understanding of how the events of the civil rights struggle have impacted his life.
“The biggest reason this fellowship opportunity speaks to me as a black American is that I get to more fully appreciate the work civil rights leaders have done to advocate for the freedoms I personally enjoy today,” Kariuki-Ebanks said. “I believe that by visiting a city as integral to the civil rights movement as Montgomery, Alabama, I’ll be better equipped to effectively teach others about African American history.”
The fellowship is funded by private donations.