Bringing Civil Rights History to Life

Bringing Civil Rights History to Life

Selma’s Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Junshan Liu and Richard Burt, McWhorter School of Building Science, are part of an interdisciplinary team focused on development of photogrammetry technology to recreate significant historic events such as Selma’s Bloody Sunday combining authentic event photographs and current 3-D laser scans. New technology is making it possible to bring history to life in ways previously unimagined. As historians and guardians of cultural artifacts, we now have the capacity to move beyond preservation and stagnant displays to sensory experiences capable of engaging and enlightening future generations.

Once completed, this multi-phased project will bring to life the setting of one of the most significant events in 20th century American history, Selma’s Bloody Sunday, while also laying groundwork for a much broader application of the technology to future historic documentation. Taking the past into the digital world offers the public opportunities to explore historic landscape for themselves and draw from it experiences that traditional documentation/presentation cannot recreate.  Digital projects such as this will expose this complicated history to new audiences in a format that will be more engaging than previous efforts to share this momentous event.  If scholars fail to meet their audience on grounds where they exist in this modern world, the very meaning and influence of an event such as Bloody Sunday will be left to Hollywood’s interpretation.  The future of the past lies in how scholars apply these developing technologies.

Junshan Liu is Associate Professor and Dr. Richard Burt is Head of Auburn’s McWhorter School of Building Science. Danielle Willkens, project collaborator, is Assistant Professor of history and theory at the Georgia Tech School of Architecture.

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Junshan Liu, Richard Burt