UNA’s History Department Offers Class Credit in Memphis



By Emily Craig

FLORENCE – The University of North Alabama’s Department of History is headed to Memphis May 15-26.

Dr. George Makowski, professor of History at UNA, came up with the idea for the trip about a year ago, after he taught a two-day class for the Tennessee Geological Society in Germantown.

“We were documenting the cemetery of New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church,” Makowski said. “Now our UNA students will learn how to create a map and hopefully make some progress on it while we’re there.” 


According to Makowski, the class will have two distinct aspects.  Makowski will work on the field skills, while Dr. Ansley Quiros, UNA assistant professor of History, will help students conduct oral histories with members and friends of New Bethel.

“My goal is that all of our 11 students, by the end of the time we are there, feel comfortable with each of those skills, so they can design a project based on them in the future,” Makowski said. “Through the oral history we will be able to learn more about the congregation and talk to the people who remember the Civil Rights era,” he said.

Makowski said each student will receive 40-45 contact hours (six credit hours), which includes class time and research work, with eight to nine hour days.

“Students will be learning about downtown Memphis through events with the church such as visiting the Civil Rights Museum and Lorraine Motel,” he said.

New Bethel is a significant site for studying black history.

“New Bethel is an antebellum black church, which is relatively rare, and participated in the freedom movements of the 19th and twentieth centuries, Quiros said.

“In terms of the class, we’ve been working together to make it a collaborative oral history and field work class,” she said. “We will use that as a lens to integrate public history.”

Both said they designed the class to be open to all students on campus who are interested and eager to participate, learn and work hard.

“We have a good mix of students,” Quiros said. “Not only will we be conducting research, we will be engaging with the community, which we think is really important, “she said. “We want to examine how academics and service can go together.”

Makowski said Quiros was behind the idea to put Justin Timberlake on the poster to draw attention from students.

“New Bethel is Justin Timberlake’s voting site, where he voted in the 2016 election.” Quiros said. “He took a selfie in the voting booth (which is illegal) but it got all this press, so it appears when you look up the church. I thought maybe it would encourage students to attend!”

For information: Dr. George Makowski at gimakoski@una.edu or Dr. Ansley Quiros at  aquiros@una.edu

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