Last school year, Lynnie Fein-Schaffer ’13 worked tirelessly with The International Democracy Memory Bank, a project funded by the United States Department of Education, to capture and preserve an important part of civil rights history in the United States. Today, the fruits of her labor can be viewed on the project’s website, http://www.civicvoices.org, in a video produced, filmed, directed, edited, and transcribed by Lynnie.
The video features Colonel Charlie Johnson speaking on his military involvement as a southerner during the civil rights movement. Johnson is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and was an active member of the military in the Airborne Division as a paratrooper serving both domestically and in Vietnam.
"Prior to interviewing Colonel Johnson, it hadn't occurred to me that the military might have played such a positive and influential role in the civil rights movement,” Lynnie said. “One often thinks of military in a combat situation, not in a civil rights context. Doing this project helped me see the military from a new perspective."
Johnson also happens to be the husband of Emma Willard Head of School Trudy Hall, which is how Lynnie came to know of him through her history teacher, Robert Naeher, Ph.D. Naeher, who is the Newell Chair of Humanities at Emma Willard, was part of a team of teachers that helped create the International Democracy Memory Bank several years ago. The project seeks to engage young people around the world in history and its preservation. He applauded Lynnie’s for completing the project.
“Lynnie worked hard on this and had to overcome a number of issues from preparing questions to learning filming techniques to make this happen,” he said. “I believe she has helped make available for students and researchers a truly significant document.”
Lynnie also did extensive research on the civil rights movement and the integration of the University of Mississippi to ask her thoughtful questions of Johnson about the historic events.
In the video, Johnson speaks in detail on his experiences as an officer helping to escort James Meredith, an African American student, into the segregated University of Mississippi in 1962. The full video and transcript of the interview created by Lynnie can be viewed here.