Derrick Alridge Awarded Jefferson Trust Grant for Teachers in the Movement Project

By Ashley Dembeck

Derrick Alridge, a professor in the Curry School of Education, received a $30,000 grant for his continued work on the Teachers in the Movement project. The grant was one of 22 awarded on April 11, 2014 by the University of Virginia Alumni Association’s Jefferson Trust.

Alridge’s Teachers in the Movement project, which was started in 2012, is an ongoing effort to collect interviews of Virginia educators who participated in civil rights activities between the 1940s and present.

“Historically, the role of teachers in the civil rights movement has been largely ignored, and the attention they have garnered has been sparse,” Alridge said.  “As a result, students and the public in general know little about the participation of teachers in the movement, who were often in the forefront of social activism.

“These teachers fulfilled various functions in the movement: as interlocutors of democracy, curriculum reformers, community organizers, and mentors to young civil rights activists. If the stories of these teachers are not systematically collected much of this history will be lost, and with it, a significant dimension of the Civil Rights Movement.” 

For this reason, the Jefferson Trust Grant will be used to fund the creation of an oral history and web-based repository on the roles of teachers in the American Civil Rights Movement.

“The project will focus on interviewing elementary, secondary and university teachers and educators about their participation in and work during the civil rights movement,” Alridge said. “It will also produce a collection and website housing the oral histories and curricular materials, such as lesson plans and teachers’ biographical sketches.”

Over the next few months Alridge and his team, which includes oral historians and civil rights activists from across the country, will be conducting interviews and developing a data base of teachers for future interviews. 

Several U.Va. graduate students interested in the history of American education and the civil rights movement are already involved in the project, and additional undergraduate students will be recruited to the project in the fall semester from courses offered through the Social Foundations of Education program at the Curry School. These students will all be trained in oral history methods and videography in the coming semester.

Alridge said that he hopes to have a database website launched by the end of the 2014 calendar year.

“The project will be of significance for K-12 education and university students and teachers in the commonwealth of Virginia, the United States, and beyond,” he concluded.