Retracing the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers’ Steps

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Earlier this month, Ashley Jones’s Literature of the African Diaspora class welcomed Nettie Weddington (and a few production teams from local news programs) for a memorable class visit. As a teenager, Ms. Weddington participated in the 1963 Birmingham campaign of the Civil Rights movement, which was a powerful catalyst for ending legalized segregation in the South and which produced some of the most searing and lasting images of the struggle for racial equality in America. (For more about Birmingham’s storied Civil Rights “Foot Soldiers,” you might want to check out Weld editor Nick Patterson’s Birmingham Foot Soldiers: Voices from the Civil Rights Movement.) After an enlightening classroom discussion, Ms. Weddington and Ms. Jones led the students as they retraced the Foot Soldiers’ steps to Kelly Ingram Park and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church — just a few short blocks away from the school — reminding the students (and all of us) that we’re never very far removed from the histories that have shaped us.

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