Selma Online Offers Free Civil Rights Lessons as the Nation Self-Quarantines

by Yah Yah
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The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and a coalition of foundations have joined forward to launch Selma Online, — a free, online teaching platform that seeks to transform how the civil rights movement is taught in middle and high schools across the country.

The launch could not come at a better time, as millions of Americans are stuck home amid the global COVID-19 outbreak, some mandated by their respective states.

Selma Online marks 55 years since the first attempt of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965, which led to police violence against peaceful African American demonstrators. The beating demonstrator received were so vicious that the day will be forever known as “Bloody Sunday.”

The public outrage was so great that it prompted President Lyndon Johnson to push the Voting Rights Act through Congress.

“It’s perfect timing, unfortunately, because of the crisis we are in,” Harvard scholar and documentary filmmaker Henry Louis Gates Jr. told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “Not only is the timing optimal for teachers who are developing online lesson plans but also for families.”

Gates helped to create the interactive website with the support of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program and Left Field Labs.

The project was inspired by Av DuVernay’s film, which follows the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and other civil rights leaders push for voting rights in Selma, Alabama.

If parents are looking for a novel way to keep their antsy teens preoccupied during this period of social distancing, Selma Online could prove to be a worthy and empowering distraction.

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