Most students don't know Civil Rights history

Civil rights it's one of the most important chapters in American history, but it's becoming quickly forgotten.

"It doesn't really surprise me that there is a lack of understanding on what the civil rights movement really meant or at least a general knowledge of it," said Robert Rusconi, a history teacher at Merry Acres Middle School.

A new study by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows a steady decline over the years, as most American students don't know the basic history of the civil rights movement.

Many students are just getting by knowing some key individuals like Martin Luther King Jr.

"It's much more then Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King played a very important role in Albany and in other places in the national movement. But he could not have been successful without the work of the ordinary civil right activists," said Albany Civil Rights Institute director Lee Formwalt.

Rusconi says the study underscores a bigger problem.

"I see a deterioration of knowledge in concerns to history in general. Like with my eighth grade Georgia studies students it surprises me that they really don't understand 9/11," said Rusconi.

"History is perceived as one of those subjects that can go. That is sad, because history not only teaches to understand our past, but it teaches us important things like critical thinking skills," said Formwalt.

Coincidently one of the leading experts in civil rights education and board member of the southern poverty law center, Julian Bond is going to be in Albany this week, talking about his experiences during the civil rights movement.

"Julian is going to be talking about the 50th anniversary of the student protests at Albany state, because he was a student at the time," said Formwalt.

Bond will be speaking Friday night at Albany State University but he'll also be here Thursday to introduce his sister Jane bond Moore who'll be speaking at the Civil Rights Institute.

Both events are free and open to the public.

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