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For Immediate Release
January 7, 2011

For more information, contact
David Tyler
(585) 395-2306

Course Gives Students a Chance to Learn and Serve

Students will spend nine days in Memphis studying and experiencing civil rights history

Brockport, NY —A class from The College at Brockport, State University of New York, will be getting hands on experience in the history of civil rights and in America as well as helping to restore a piece of history during a service learning trip to Memphis, TN.

The students are enrolled in Protest and Public Opinion, a WinterSession ’11 course offered by the Department of Communication. The course includes classroom segments at the Brockport campus as well as a nine-day, eight-night field experience in Memphis. The class departs on Monday, January 10.

Students will perform service work on the Zion Cemetery Project, by helping to reclaim an abandoned 16-acre Black cemetery that contains 23,000 graves (some of which are former slaves). They also will take field trips to Civil Rights sites in Memphis, in Jackson, MS and in the Mississippi Delta region. The capstone experience will be a visit to the site of Martin Luther King's final speech, the National Civil Rights museum at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated, and observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Memphis.

“The goal of the course is to help students immerse themselves into projects that relate to the course that they can document and share with the campus community. It brings together both experiential learning and service, a combination that leaves a deep impression on students,” said course instructor Dale Hartnett. “When students become engaged with the world off campus, they tend to learn better,” Hartnett said. “On this trip they’ll not only be seeing the effects of things they’ve learned about such as the Memphis sanitation strike, they’ll be meeting the people who were actually part of those historic events.” Students will meet with Americorps volunteers, be fed by members of Memphis’ black churches and visit sites involved in 1964’s Freedom Summer. They will spend time each day reflecting on their experiences and will blog about their trip at

Hartnett and two other staff members will accompany the group on the trip. Freshman David Babb, 19, of Brooklyn, NY, is a student in the class and was drawn to it by the opportunity to go on the trip. “This class is bringing us to where history happened, to where they had the protests,” he said. “I fell in love with the idea of helping to work on Zion Cemetery and seeing these places for myself.”

The College at Brockport, State University of New York
350 New Campus Drive * Brockport, New York 14420-2931
(585) 395-2754 * FAX (585) 395-2723 *

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