Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Professional Writing (MAPW)



Committee Chair/First Advisor

Laura McGrath


Garrard Conley


Every successful social movement needs both charismatic leaders and faithful followers who enact the vision of the leaders. The American civil rights movement is a model for how this works. Leaders like John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, and Andrew Young were crucial to the movement’s success, but they needed countless people working to fulfill their vision. Unfortunately, when historians recall the most significant activists of the American civil rights movement, many foot soldiers are overlooked. King’s leadership was strengthened because of the commitment of his followers, many who are unknown nationally. He led the way only because there were faithful followers who carved their own paths that contributed to the movement. This project tells the story of six unseen changemakers who impacted America’s civil rights history in powerful ways. It highlights six extraordinary people who made an impact in the civil rights movement but were largely unheralded. Though known in their communities, they were not recognized on a national scale. The project illustrates their stories as a recovery narrative that reveals how these relatively unknown figures acted to transform the racial equality of King’s dream into observable progress in their communities.

Available for download on Monday, April 25, 2033