PHI Intern Morgan Wilson Works with Civil Rights Commission

By Morgan Wilson

This image shows four white Tuscaloosa police officers and sheriff's deputies placing a black man into a prisoner transport.
Tuscaloosa Police and Sheriff’s Deputies Arrest a Demonstrator.
Photo Courtesy of the Tuscaloosa News.

This spring, I am participating in the Civil Rights Commission internship, which involves gathering and compiling information on civil rights in West Alabama. I chose to work on this project because I want to learn more about the rich but often underestimated civil rights events and legacies of the Tuscaloosa area. While American history and civil rights are not subjects that I have formally researched in recent years, I have a very personal investment in these topics on the local level. Members of my family have called the Tuscaloosa area home for at least four generations, and some were involved in events like Bloody Tuesday when marchers were beaten, hosed, and tear-gassed by policemen in 1964. Many of them still live here, and embarking on this internship has already inspired me to ask more questions about their viewpoints and experiences. The current political climate has also sparked a renewed interest in the issues of equality and progress, and motivated me to look back in order to understand and process recent events and debates.

As a public history intern, my current task is to research three sites: Greenwood Cemetery, Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, and the Alabama Citizen and its building. I will be describing their origins, their roles in the community, and their ties to the Civil Rights Movement. These sites, along with ones like the Alston Building and First African Baptist Church researched by my fellow interns, are intended to become stops on the future Tuscaloosa and West Alabama Civil Rights Tour. I am excited to help build an experience that will bring parts of a fascinating and important history to life for both locals and outside visitors.