Museum Grand Opening: May 17 from 9 – 11 a.m.

American Civil Rights Museum at Elon Island

As seen from the sea, the American Civil Rights Museum garden and Woolworth entrance located on Elon Island.

Graduate students in the iMedia program at Elon University have used the synthetic world of Second Life to create the American Civil Rights Museum — a virtual museum that looks at the civil rights movement in the United States.

Maria Rojas and Melissa Spencer, students in the Virtual Environments class explored issues of identity, memory and discrimination as they recreated parts of the newly opened International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina.

On Monday May 17 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., they will host a virtual open house to showcase the museum and its exhibits. The museum in Second Life is located on Elon Island at coordinates 45.119.28. They will also simultaneously give a talk about their work and give tours of the museum at Elon University in Powell 213.

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum, housed in the former Woolworth’s building on Elm Street, honors the Greensboro Four who sat at the segregated lunch counter on February 1, 1960 and started the sit-in movement that spread nationwide. The students used this museum’s exhibits as inspiration for their virtual museum.

The students’ work highlights the duality of African-American experience through exhibits that showcase the best and worst of the civil rights movement.

Virtual Environments, an elective in the iMedia graduate program, is taught by Dr. Michelle Ferrier (SL: Firenza Mavinelli) with assistance from Dr. Tony Crider (SL: Chaac Amarula).

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CBS Evening News: The Legacy of the Greensboro Four

On the eve of the election of the nation’s first African American president, CBS News interviews the Greensboro Four — the young men who launched the sit-in movement from a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, NC. Our Second Life project uses this video as the centerpiece of the lunch counter exhibit in the virtual American Civil Rights Museum.

The Legacy of the Greensboro Four
CBSNewsOnline — January 17, 2009 — As Barack Obama prepares to become the first African American U.S. president, Russ Mitchell profiles four young men who stood up for their rights at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Second Life: American Civil Rights Museum

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How do you recreate a recreation of a story of an event? That was the question our class wrestled with as we began the recreation of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum located in Greensboro, North Carolina. The museum opened on February 1, 2010 and we initially thought to recreate the actual museum and some of its key exhibits in Second Life.

We wrestled with the notion that the museum itself is a recreation of stories of civil rights events. How could we go beyond recreating the recreation and offer a different experience not only of this tumultuous time in our country’s history, but to begin to play with experiences. ..

How/could we recreate the experience of discrimination in the virtual world of Second Life?

Our project toyed with issues of identity, memory, history and historical recreation/preservation. Our goal for the project entailed extending the experience of a typical physical museum and provide an experience online that some visitors may not be able to experience in real life.

Thus, the American Civil Rights Museum was born on Elon University Island in Second Life. It borrows from its physical counterpart in Greensboro and mimics some of the exhibit spaces to recreate snippets of the museum experience. However, we’ve taken liberties with the concepts of museum and recreation, offering new spaces and new ways to engage around civil rights history and storytelling.

The project is in progress through the Spring 2010 and is being constructed by Elon University iMedia graduate students Maria Rojas and Melissa Spencer under the guidance of professors Dr. Michelle Ferrier and Dr. Tony Crider in the COM 563 Virtual Environments class.

Maria Rojas (aka Havana Rae)

Melissa Spencer (aka Devika Pavica)

Michelle Ferrier (aka Firenza Mavinelli)

Tony Crider (aka Chaac Amarula)

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