Civil Rights in the 21st Century

In The Atlantic's April 16, 2014 issue, Nikole Hannah-Jones reports a Southern school system's slide back into segregation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Some call these schools with fewer than 1% white enrollment "apartheid schools." "Resegregation in the American South" reminds us that the hard-won gains from the U.S. Civil Rights Era of the mid-twentieth century are not secure, and people—everyday people like us—may need to call upon their consciences and knowledge to continue this battle.

Today, Fayette County faces new kinds of change, including the impact of growth from nearby Memphis. What does Fayette County's history mean to newer residents—whether to those who have moved recently or to young people born locally—and how might broader recognition of that past shape the county today? We think the people of Fayette County offer a special opportunity to understand how communities can overcome difficult pasts, an issue that remains urgent in state, national, and global discussions.

We are interested in the relationship between history and the present. How do experiences from the 1960s affect people's feelings, hopes, or concerns about Fayette County today? What do these stories mean to young people who are just learning about the county's past?