My Winthrop Experience

Derrick Alridge '88, '92
Charlottesville, Virginia
B.A., history; M.Ed., secondary education
Professor, University of Virginia Curry School of Education

As a child, Rock Hill native Derrick Alridge '88, '92 didn't have to look far for role models. In fact, he looked no farther than his home, his neighborhood and the schools he attended.

"My very positive experiences with the teachers of my childhood helped manifest my desire to become a teacher," said Alridge, professor of education in the University of Virginia Curry's School of Education. He viewed his hometown teachers as unsung heroes in the Civil Rights Movement, and he wanted to share their stories-and the stories of teachers outside Rock Hill-with the world. So Alridge created Teachers in the Movement (TIM), a civil rights oral history project focused on interviews with elementary, secondary and university teachers and educators about their participation in and efforts during the Civil Rights Movement.

"When we think about the Civil Rights era, we tend to look at the same individuals, such as Martin Luther King Jr., over and over again — and these are very important individuals," said Alridge. "However, we don't pay much attention to the roles that teachers played in their classrooms and communities in terms of promoting civil rights."

People have paid attention to Alridge's focus on Civil Rights role models. The University of Virginia recently named his director of the newly established Center on Race and Public Education in the South.

As TIM project director, Alridge works with a research team to conduct on-camera interviews with educators-of all different races and social backgrounds-in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and the Carolinas about their experiences as teachers during the Civil Rights Movement. The project "illuminates the importance of teachers and community leaders as activists," Alridge said, and TIM provides a vital historical perspective for present and future educators still relevant today.

In recent trips to Rock Hill, Alridge has interviewed several retired teachers, including Cynthia Plair Roddey '67, Winthrop's first African-American graduate student, and Louise Roseboro. He also collaborates with Winthrop Ellison Capers Palmer Jr. Professor of History Jason Silverman, Alridge's mentor and a consultant for TIM.

Alridge, who earned B.A. and M.Ed. degrees at Winthrop, credits Silverman with stoking his passion for history and for helping inspire him to create Teachers in the Movement. As the project expands, he said that he hopes TIM can reach a global audience and emphasize the importance of the teaching profession.

"I hope that this project will encourage others to pursue careers in teaching and view teaching as a noble profession that can make a difference," said Alridge.

For more information, visit the Teachers in the Movement website.