During spring break 2013, SMU students, faculty and staff took advantage of their time off by focusing on civil rights, research projects, service trips and more. Their experiences included:

SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage


Student pilgrims with Professor Dennis Simon

During this nine-day bus ride, students, faculty and staff visited the American South’s civil rights landmarks and leaders in the movement. Political Science Professor Dennis Simon leads the pilgrimage with the SMU Chaplain’s Office.

The group’s stops included the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served as pastor; Tuskegee University; the campus of Ole Miss in Oxford; and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. King was assassinated. Their first visit was to Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, where in 1957 nine African-American students faced angry mobs protesting integration.

“The first thing I noticed about this was just how long that street is in front of the high school,” wrote Michelle Anderson, a sophomore human rights and anthropology major, on the SMU Adventures blog. “I can’t imagine having to walk down that, head held high, while hundreds of people told you how they did not want you there, solely based on the color of your skin.”

  • Professor Dennis Simon, Reverend Ray Jordan and junior Emily Mankowski discussed the 2013 Civil Rights Pilgrimage during Think on KERA-FM.
  • Read more about the students’ experiences on the SMU Adventures blog.

Research at the Library of Congress

Thirteen students spent six days in Washington, D.C., conducting research on the papers of former Supreme Court Justices housed in the Library of Congress. As part of the University Honors Program seminar “Law, Politics, and the Supreme Court,” the students developed independent research projects, including on student rights, libel and national security.

After the students’ second day in the Manuscript Reading Room, sophomore Alexander Hoskins, a sophomore psychology and political science major, wrote on the blog: “The second we enter that reading room, everything else just gets checked at the front door. Our brains are nothing but case law and Justice dynamics. Each new box brims with clues and facts that give us better insight into what influences and sustains the judicial decision-making process. … Everything is so real that it’s like each Justice is sitting there with you, annotating each opinion. Privilege is an understatement.”

Political science Professor Joe Kobylka led the trip, which was supported by the Richter Foundation and the University Honors Program.

Student researchers with Professor Joe Kobylka at the Library of Congress

Student researchers with Professor Joe Kobylka at the Library of Congress