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The Problem of the Color Line: Atlanta Landmarks and Civil Rights History

Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012

“The Problem of the Color Line: Atlanta Landmarks and Civil Rights History” consists of two one-week NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops held during summer 2012 for eighty school teachers on southern segregation and the Civil Rights movement in Atlanta. The project is anchored in an observation made by W. E. B. Du Bois in The Souls of Black Folk (1903): “The Problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” In addition to Atlanta University’s Stone Hall, where Du Bois penned this famous reflection, the project uses other Atlanta sites as touchstones for examining the history of the “color line,” race relations, and the Civil Rights movement in twentieth-century America. Sites include Piedmont Park, the site of Booker T. Washington’s 1895 “Atlanta Compromise” speech; the residence of Alonzo Herndon, a former slave who became Atlanta’s first black millionaire; the Fox Theatre, which still bears the marks of the segregation era; the State Capitol, which retains monuments to both Jim Crow and the triumph over the color line; and the Auburn Avenue National Landmark District (the site of Ebenezer Baptist Church) and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. Georgia State University faculty members Timothy J. Crimmins, Glenn Eskew, Clifford Kuhn, and Akinyele Umoja address such topics as the South before the color line, the debate between W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906, and race relations in Atlanta from the 1930s to the 1990s. In addition, Dana White (Emory University), Beverly Guy Sheftall (Spelman College), and Vickie Crawford (Morehouse College) lecture about patterns of segregation in Atlanta during the Jim Crow era and women in the Civil Rights movement. Readings are drawn from varied primary sources (such as Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, Ray Baker’s Following the Color Line, and autobiographies by Walter White and John Lewis), secondary works (such as William Chafe’s Remembering Jim Crow and Aldon Morris’s Origins of the Civil Rights Movement), and literary texts (from such writers as Margaret Mitchell, Joel Chandler Harris [“Uncle Remus”], Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, and Tom Wolfe).

Dates: Atlanta, GA: July 15–21 or July 22–28
Grantee Institutions: Timothy Crimmins, Georgia State University
Location: Martin Luther King National Historic Site, the Atlanta University Center Historic District, the Auburn Avenue Landmark District, the Fox Theater, Piedmont Park—Site of the 1895 Cotton States Exposition, the Georgia Capitol

About NEH Landmarks of American History: Workshops for School Teachers

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the federal government. As part of the NEH’s We the People program, we offer the following Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers. NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops provide the opportunity for K-12 educators to engage in intensive study and discussion of important topics in American history and culture. These one-week programs will give participants direct experiences in the interpretation of significant historical and cultural sites and the use of archival and other primary evidence. Landmarks Workshops present the best scholarship on a specific landmark or related cluster of landmarks, enabling participants to gain a sense of the importance of historical places, to make connections between what they learn in the Workshop and what they teach, and to develop enhanced teaching or research materials.

Amount of Award

Teachers selected to participate will receive a stipend of $1,200 at the end of the residential Workshop session. Stipends are intended to help cover living expenses, books, and travel expenses to and from the Workshop location.


These projects are designed principally for classroom teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously-affiliated schools, as well as home schooling parents. Other K-12 school personnel, including administrators, substitute teachers, and classroom professionals, are eligible to participate, subject to available space.

Teachers at schools in the United States or its territorial possessions or Americans teaching in foreign schools where at least 50 percent of the students are American nationals are eligible for this program. Applicants must be United States citizens, residents of U.S. jurisdictions, or foreign nationals who have been residing in the United States or its territories for at least the three years immediately preceding the application deadline. Foreign nationals teaching abroad at non-U.S. chartered institutions are not eligible to apply.

Applicants must complete the NEH application and provide all of the information requested to be considered eligible.

New this year: An individual may apply to up to two NEH Summer Programs in any one year (Landmarks Workshops, Summer Seminars, or Summer Institutes), but may participate in only one. Please note that eligibility criteria differ significantly between the Landmarks Workshops and the Seminars and Institutes Programs.

How to Apply

Please e-mail, telephone or send by U.S. Post a request for application information and expanded Workshop descriptions to the Landmarks directors listed here; in many cases, these materials will also be available on project Web sites. You may request information about as many Workshops as you like, and, as noted above, you may apply to up to two programs but participate in only one.