Summer class gives students chance to learn through experience

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La’Zhane Chaffer. PHOTO/Jim Irizarry
La’Zhane Chaffer. PHOTO/Jim Irizarry

Staff Writer/Copy Editor

The next tour by the Student Association for Civil Rights and Social Justice won’t happen until 2018, but organizers are already hard at work.

They are trying to secure passes into the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. The museum, like all of the Smithsonian museums, is one of the most difficult to get into in the world. Tickets are already sold out through March of next year.

The association is looking to continue learning the lessons first taught on their Freedom Summer tour of the South, which happened in May.

“We went to a number of museums and exhibits focused on things from the civil rights movement to slavery,” said junior La’Zhane Chaffer, President of the Student Association for Civil Rights and Social Justice. “We spoke to key people from the freedom riots and learned about their experiences and what they went through; we gave presentations and reports on key figures of the civil rights movement, so there was a lot of learning.”

Association vice president Jamie Morgan explained that the Freedom Summer tour was able to recruit all women. That gave the association a chance to focus on the women leaders who weren’t promoted as heavily through history as others.

“We got to learn about people like Ella Baker, Diane Nash and Fannie Lou Hamer, who get a little bit meddled in history sometimes,” Morgan said. “With Rosa Parks, she was, in her own right, she was doing more organizing than we ever knew about. She was an NAACP secretary and she was very thoughtful in her protesting. It wasn’t just sitting on the bus being tired. There was a lot of thought process going on. It was a good opportunity to shift the narrative and also understand what was going on for those women and why their names weren’t promoted as much. They were working behind the scenes, trying to promote the leadership that we saw.”

Dr. Darryl Heller, who is the Director of the Civil Rights Heritage Center at IUSB, was one of the leaders on the Freedom Summer trip. Heller said that IUSB has a history of organizing students for experiential learning and learning that is related to civil rights and race. As a historian, Heller believes that history helps people understand our current world.

“I wanted students to learn the history of the civil rights movement in a more direct way,” Heller said. “Also, in this particular climate we’re living in now, not so much in May, but increasingly with the election rhetoric and all of the vehemence and anti-race rhetoric, but last spring, it was still in the midst of this kind of incessant parade of primarily young black people being killed by police. I wanted students to go out and be able to experience it more on a sensual level.”

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