Please see the following articles featuring Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado,
"The Historian In Heels."
PAGE Under Construction
By: Stan Washington 2/27/2017
(Atlanta and The Civil Rights Movement 1944-1968, by Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, PhD, Arcadia Publishing).
Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, Ph.D fell in love with history at the early age of 9. It was a Time-Life book about the Civil War that captured her interest. It was the first time she saw photos of black people and the one that struck her the most was one of former slave and abolitionist Fredrick Douglass. “That book made me want to know about me and made me love and appreciate being black,” she said during an interview at The Atlanta Voice offices. A native of Atmore, Al, her love with history grew stronger over the years and set her on the course to penning her first book, “Atlanta And The Civil Rights Movement, 1944-1968” a historical pictorial from Arcadia Publishing.
As a college professor and now book author, Sims-Alvarado is on a mission to spread her love of history to young people so they can too know of the glorious past of African Americans. The alumnae of Clark Atlanta University and Atlanta resident sat down with for an interview the week her book was set to hit the bookshelves. Below is an edited version of the interview. For more see the article online.
Atlanta Voice: Tell us about your approach to this book.
Karcheik Sims-Alvarado: (While at Clark Atlanta University) I learned how to do research while learning how to shoot documentaries. Back then nothing was digitalized. You had to do everything manually. I became familiar with archives and I really enjoyed gathering footage for these film projects. So as I began to create these documentaries in my mind I was thinking about what could I do with print. And then when I went to graduate school, where I learned to do [historical] research and pen these historical narratives I began thinking about what I would see visually. So when I began to create this book it was a combination of all these things. It took me approximately two years to put this together. The hardest part was trying to figure out where I was going to get the images from. I wanted to do something different. I admire the work that historian, author (Herman) “Skip” Mason did. I met him several years ago, at the Atlanta History Center and told him: “I’m going to be like you one day.”
AV: On covering the same material that other historians and authors have covered.
KSA: When I thought about the book I wanted to do, I thought about the images. Skip had covered everything under the sun about Atlanta. So, I thought about how could I do something different that looked different also. The beautiful thing about history is that there are so many ways of telling a story. There is always a new question to be asked. There is always a new perspective that you can offer and in looking at sources you can use them differently than what people have done before. It was hard trying to find a collection of photos. I knew the images I wanted to use. I wanted to use photographs from the Associated Press. I contacted them and they agreed. They had so many photographs from the 1940s, 50s and 6os. Atlanta had received so much coverage back then but if you looked at the narrative of the civil rights movement so much of the focus was on Birmingham and Selma. So, there is this narrative that at the time Atlanta was “too busy to hate” and we weren’t protesting and we weren’t mad. That is so far from the truth.
AV: You chose between 1944 and 1968. Why those years?
KSA: I want to have this period flanked between two war periods – World War II and Vietnam. I looked at ’44 because when veterans returned to Atlanta – both men and women – they came back and began to organize. They were organizing against police brutality which is the same thing we are seeing today with Black Lives Matter demonstrations. They wanted to assert their first-class citizenship. They wanted to say to the world that I can go and fight on behalf of other people, my country and I come back and I’m still not treated as a first-class citizen. Fast forward and I ended it with the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the time of the Vietnam War which I do believe that was one of the reasons he was assassinated because of his position on the War and his position on economic equality.
AV: You have geared this book towards young people.
KSA: I really wanted to create a work that appeals to multiple generations – young people and older readers as well. I kept thinking about what kind of book would I create for my young self. What impact would this book have on me if I was a teenager. There is so much about us that is left out of text books that are provided to young folk. I wanted to create something for them so that they could see themselves in print, but also to inspire them. They can see for themselves how this generation did so much with so little resources and how mighty you can be with just a handful of individuals.