From left to right: Chris Potranandana, Thailand, University of California, Berkeley (Law); Biancamaria Spricigo, Italy, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Law);  Safyah Usmani, Pakistan, Wake Forest University (Film and Cinema Studies) with civil rights veteran Lonnie King.


Students from more than 60 countries ranging alphabetically from Afghanistan to Vietnam came to Atlanta for a four-day conference Jan. 31-Feb. 3 about the U.S. civil rights movement and its global implications.

The seminar was held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta and was organized by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education.

The Fulbright foreign student program brings citizens of other countries to the U.S. for master’s degree or doctorate studies at U.S. universities. More than 1,800 foreign Fulbright fellows enter U.S. academic programs each year, according to the program’s website.

The students who visited Atlanta are in their first year of the program and participated in activities engaging local students in math, social studies and science through the Hands On Atlanta Discovery Program at the Parklane Elementary School in East Point on Feb. 2.

They also visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and the Atlanta History Center where they heard a keynote address by Lonnie C. King Jr., a leader in the sit-in movement of the 1960s in Atlanta and currently chairman, Committee on the Appeal for Human Rights (COAHR).

In addition, they attended panel discussions with Thomas O’Brien, professor and chair, Department of Educational Studies and Research, University of Southern Mississippi; Jerry Gonzalez, executive director, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO); Helen Kim Ho, director, lead attorney, Asian American Legal Advocacy Center (AALAC) and Deborah Richardson, executive vice president National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Shelby Lewis, a member of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, resides in Atlanta.