Alabama Bicentennial Summer Institute visits campus | Judson College


Alabama Bicentennial Summer Institute visits campus

On June 25, a group of educators visited the Judson campus as part of their participation in an Alabama Bicentennial Summer Institute.

The theme of the 3-day workshop for 3rd- through 6th-grade teachers was “Telling Alabama’s Story: A Community Perspective.”  According to participant Marianne McGriff, Judson alumna and teacher at Bluff Park Elementary in Hoover, the workshop’s focus was local history in Perry and Dallas Counties: “There was a special emphasis on the Civil Rights Movement, especially the Freedom March. In Marion we visited the Lincoln School and Judson College and ate a big, delicious lunch at Lottie’s Restaurant!”

Valerie Burnes ‘99, Assistant Professor of History at UWA; Marianne McGriff ‘79, Bluff Park Elementary (Hoover); Ameshia Al-Badani, Dalraida Elementary (Montgomery)

The group also toured Old Cahawba, Alabama’s first capital, and the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma. In addition to visiting historic sites in the Black Belt, participating teachers attended training sessions on the Encyclopedia of Alabama and the importance of teaching with primary sources. Dr. Valerie Pope Burnes, co‐author of Visions of the Black Belt: A Cultural Survey of the Heart of Alabama, provided a brief history and discussion of the Black Belt. Burnes, who is a Judson graduate and Assistant Professor of History at the University of West Alabama, served as Content Specialist for the workshop, ensuring accuracy of information and leading the session on primary and secondary sources. Sylvia Cook of Francis Marion School in Marion served as Master Teacher for the workshop, and Annette Scott of Francis Marion School was Assistant Teacher.

Burnes emphasized the importance and urgency of the Bicentennial workshop content and training for Alabama’s teachers. “The time teachers have to teach history and social studies is decreasing each year,” she said. “These workshops give third- through sixth-grade teachers the tools they need to incorporate Alabama history into their overall curriculum, not just into the few minutes allotted for social studies. We also wanted to be sure to let local educators know the rich history in our area, especially regarding women’s history and the Civil Rights Movement.”

Sessions on oral history, Jim Crow, and cultural identity sought to illuminate the powerful impact that the Civil Rights Movement and its stories have had on Alabamians, especially those in the  Black Belt.  For their final projects, participating teachers created grade‐specific content for their classrooms using storytelling, oral history, and primary documents.

The Bicentennial Summer Institute workshops are hosted by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission in partnership with the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Over the three-year Bicentennial initiative, the Commission has conducted teacher education workshops across the state–twenty this summer alone, with topics ranging from agriculture and ecology to history and education. The “Telling Alabama’s Story” workshop was one of five workshops conducted this week. For more information about workshops and other Alabama Bicentennial resources available for teachers, visit

Header photo: Participants in the Alabama Bicentennial Summer Institute pose with Ann Tew, Judson First Lady, on the steps of the College’s President’s Home.