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Fisk University Marks Black History Month Celebrating John Lewis Walk Across Edmund Pettus Bridge in the Metaverse

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What

Fisk University students, along with their professor, Dr. Brandon Owens, will provide a guided tour of the journey for civil rights through 130 years of American history.

The tour will start on the Fisk University digital twin campus, and then move to La Amistad slave ship. From there, students will visit the Underground Railroad Museum and finally, visit the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma, Alabama as they follow the steps of Dr. Martin Luther King and John Lewis across the bridge. 

Why

With the advance of virtual reality and the metaverse, students now have an opportunity to understand history through experiential learning. Rather than reading about La Amistad, students can now stand on it and descend below to better understand the conditions of those carried across the Atlantic as cargo.

Even more, this journey is intended to be a unifying event. In this time of controversy related to history related to race, Dr. Owens’ tour celebrates all those who made positive impacts on the journey to civil rights.

Fisk University

Students Will Learn: 

  • The founding of Fisk University in 1866 was a direct result of American missionaries, mainly Congregationalists, who went to Africa following the Amistad incident in 1839 and set up schools there for the training of Mende men, women, and children with plans of providing for them “a meaningful Christian education.” 
  • They reasoned that similar schools could be set up in the South for the newly freed slave thus aiding in their attempt to become self-sufficient.

La Amistad Tour 

Students Will Learn: 

  • La Amistad was the last slave ship to come to the United States, and it came illegally after Congress had banned the slave trade.
  • A mutiny, led by Joseph Cinque, from Western Africa, allowed the enslaved captives to gain control of the ship from those engaged in the business of the illegal slave trade.
  • Students will tour the ship, both above and below in the cargo hold. 
  • Former president, John Adams, came out of retirement to argue the case of the Africans on the ship that they were not property and they should be returned to Africa as free people.

Underground Railroad 

Students Will Learn:

  • How the system of enslaved people escaping led to a secret pathway from the South to the North.
  • That Harriet Tubman was a leader in this system and will get to hold a replica of the tools she carried with her.
  • They will learn about those whose homes were used to secretly shelter those escaping at great risk.

Edmund Pettus Bridge 

Students will Learn:

  • This bridge in Selma, Alabama, was the starting place for the landmark 1965 Civil Rights marches to Birmingham, Alabama. The march was led by John Lewis, a Fisk University graduate and Hosea Williams.
  • There were three marches, the final one led by Martin Luther King
  • The US system for legislative change worked, but not without sacrifice by those seeking equal rights.
  • Both White and Black Americans joined the third and final march to Birmingham to secure changes to segregation laws in Alabama, culminating in 25,000 marchers reaching Birmingham.
  • Students will have the opportunity to walk across the bridge together, recreating the beginning of the march in 1965

Summary

Learning history in a unifying way that allows students to experience the places and events is a gift never before possible. Students from Fisk University, a prestigious HBCU in Nashville, and high school students across the U.S  will experience history together even though thousands of miles may separate them geographically. The historical metaverse was built by VictoryXR, a leader in immersive education.

To celebrate Black History Month in this way shows leadership by both institutions.

Dr. Brandon Owens is a distinguished historian and lecturer at Fisk University will lead the history tour along with students from Fisk University. 

Direct questions to: steve@victoryxr.com or Bowens@Fisk.edu

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