Walking in the Footsteps of History
Our team exhibited at the 2022 ACCelerate Creativity + Innovation Festival at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., April 8-10. Over the course of three days, the museum welcomed over 30,000 visitors and we had the privilege to share our research and visualization work with a wide audience, from young students and families to fellow collegiate researchers and even decendants of the brave foot soldiers and campsite owners from the March to Montgomery.
Our team won the People's Choice Award for Advancing Public Knowledge at the event, and received an array of media coverage: GT's Academic and Research Update, the Auburn University The Newsroom, Virginia Tech's VTx: Exponentially More, even the Selma Sun newspaper.
Following its time in Washington, D.C., the exhibit was on display in Georgia Tech's School of Architecture and it will be in other Atlanta venues in the summer of 2022. The team is also exploring opportunities for creating and implementing a series of traveling exhibits to share this research and interactive historic interpretation across the country.
Explore the exhibit and its interactive components in the virtual platform below.
Walking in the Footsteps of History: Selma’s "Bloody Sunday" at the Edmund Pettus Bridge
New technology is making it possible to bring history to life in ways previously unimagined. As historians and guardians of cultural artifacts, researchers and historians now have the capacity to move beyond preservation and stagnant displays, towards sensory experiences capable of engaging and enlightening future generations. This project aims to protect our cultural heritage by creating and enhancing experimental, computationally based methods, techniques, and infrastructure that contribute to the humanities and bring a critical moment in civil rights history to life. The project team, in collaboration with citizens of Selma, Selma museums and interpretive centers, and Civil Rights Movement experts will use advanced digitization technology to create an immersive virtual reality experience that provides a precise recreation of events and activities of participants within the transformative Civil Rights event of March 7,1965.
The scope of work will result in a proof-of-concept prototype that demonstrates the feasibility of the final digital documentation and accurate recreation project, resulting in unprecedented examples of immersive virtual and augmented reality. The animation of Bloody Sunday will provide virtual access to a precarious but significant historic site while dynamically explaining and enliven the event for students, teachers, and citizens across the globe. The project’s innovative and precisely documented workflow will bring conflict archaeology into the 21st century and provide a model for other projects to leverage archival content and physical surveys into accurate, experiential, and geospatial reconstructions.
The subject of our investigation, Selma’s Bloody Sunday, also has considerable meaning in today’s context. As one of the most significant, extant landmarks associated with the American Civil Rights Movement, the National Historic Landmark (2013) of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama was the site of the infamous “Bloody Sunday” conflict on March 7, 1965. Here, Alabama State Troopers, armed with clubs and tear gas, attacked 600 peaceful demonstrators as they attempted to march to Montgomery. The bridge, unlike Selma and much of the south, was not segregated, and as an element of transportation infrastructure still in use, it continues to be a connective thread that holds issues of race, socioeconomic status, and education in tension. There is, however, urgency. The bridge has passed its functional lifespan and has an uncertain future.