Students on the Front Lines: The Fight to Desegregate Public Higher Education in Georgia from the 1960s Atlanta Student Movement to the Undocumented Student Movement Today
Melissa Rivas-Triana, Freedom University student leader
Laura Emiko Soltis, Freedom University
In March 1960, Black students of the Atlanta University Center published "An Appeal for Human Rights," which outlined their grievances of racial discrimination, segregation, and unequal access to public higher education. Fifty years later, the Georgia Board of Regents passed policies that banned undocumented students from attending the state’s top public universities and qualifying for in-state tuition. In their struggle to desegregate higher education in Georgia in the 21st century, undocumented students looked to the example set by the student leaders in the Black Freedom Movement. They founded Freedom University, a modern freedom school for undocumented students, built intergenerational and interracial alliances, and adapted effective strategies of civil disobedience alongside new and vibrant cultural symbols to launch a powerful student movement for educational human rights in the South. The panel will feature diverse perspectives from within these two movements. Panelists will discuss the opportunities and challenges of interracial student struggles and the role of media across movement generations in order to highlight the possibilities of securing racial justice and structural transformation in higher education today.