[Blackstudies-l] Senior Todd Christensen says working on the just-launched One Person, One Vote website has given him "a new sense of what history really is."

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Mon Mar 9 01:15:26 EDT 2015

 Mar. 06, 2015
Geneseo Student Engaged in Development of SNCC Voting Rights Website
[image: Christensen] <http://www.geneseo.edu/image/christensen>

*Senior Todd Christensen says working on the just-launched One Person, One
Vote website has given him "a new sense of what history really is."*
GENESEO, N.Y. – A SUNY Geneseo student has been engaged in the creation of
a new web resource dedicated to telling the story of the grassroots fight
for voting rights.

Todd Christensen, a senior history major from Cazenovia, N.Y., has been
responsible for writing many of the organizational and geographical
profiles for the website “One Person, One Vote: The Legacy of SNCC and the
Fight for Voting Rights." <http://onevotesncc.org/> Christensen
collaborated on the project with civil rights scholars from around the
country, veterans of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC),
and students and faculty at Duke University, where the project is based.

The site went live this week leading up to the 50th anniversary of “Bloody
Sunday” (March 7, 1965), when state troopers attacked the peaceful voting
rights march of 600 local demonstrators on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. In
addition, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act will
be celebrated this August.

“The work on the website has given me a new sense of what history really
is,” said Christensen. “The website tells the story of black voting rights
through the lens of the ordinary black people in the Deep South during the
early 60s, who put their lives on the line to fight for first-class
citizenship.  These people, who are almost always missing in history
textbooks, both in high school and college, served as the backbone of
grassroots movements for black political power.  And having the chance to
work with Duke and the SNCC legacy Project in being able to tell their
stories has taught me a lot about the power of regular people doing
extraordinary things.”

Christensen said the history of the Civil Rights Movement doesn’t always
have to focus on major leaders and events, but should also include the
actions of lesser known people, the sharecroppers, small farmers, day
laborers, and church leaders who made the struggle possible.  He said the
website does a good job uncovering this type of history.

“Having Todd as a part of the One Person, One Vote project team gave
the website a historical depth it wouldn’t have had otherwise,” said Karlyn
Forner, project director and Christensen’s supervisor. “He came into the
project with more knowledge of the Mississippi Movement and grassroots
community organizing than any of the other students on the project team.
This made him exceptionally qualified to write the organizational profiles
on the One Person, One Vote site, which provided historical context to the
more narrative content.”
Christensen joined in workshop sessions via Skype and traveled to Duke to
spend a week writing, commenting, and revising content with the project
team in the days before launch.

“Todd has done extraordinary research and written several outstanding
papers grounded in the grassroots Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi in
the early 1960s,” said Emilye Crosby
<http://www.geneseo.edu/history/emilye-crosby>, professor of history at
SUNY Geneseo. “He immersed himself in the organizational records available
on microfilm and read voraciously in the most important scholarly works to
come up with nuanced analysis that really contributes to our understanding
of grassroots organizing and the role of Freedom Schools in helping young
Black Mississippians develop a sense of political efficacy. It's exciting
to see one of our students use what he has been learning to make such a
tangible contribution.”

Media Contact:
David Irwin
Media Relations Director
(585) 245-5529
Irwin at geneseo.edu
Maria Helena Lima
Department of English
Comparative Literature Director
Welles 225A
SUNY Geneseo
Geneseo, NY 14454

(585) 245-5242
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