Another generation of SMU Civil Rights Pilgrims set out on March 4, 2016

Dennis Simon

Another generation of SMU Civil Rights Pilgrims set out on March 4, 2016

This years travelers with the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage will experience a different kind of spring break. They’ll join 50 others on an eight-day bus journey (March 4-12) to experience the history of the civil rights movement firsthand. I will be one of those lucky travelers.

CRP

This program, started in 2004, continues to grow each year. In 2008, the pilgrimage joined forces with Dr. Dennis Simon‘s Political Science course. Now the trip is also a requirement for undergraduate human rights majors and is offered to students in the Master of Liberal Studies Program.

Ray Jordan, trip leader, pastor and professor, came to our first class to discuss the pilgrimage. I wasn’t too excited about having a night class during my last semester in college, but Jordan made me excited about what was to come this semester. I was amazed by how far back the history of the pilgrimage went. This spring break, I’ll not only be experiencing years of American history but also years of SMU history. I’ll take part in an experience that is an integral part of what being an SMU student is all about.

Our journey will take us through the history of the civil rights movement. We’ll begin in Little Rock and visit Central High School and then move to Selma and walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We’ll be around for the anniversary of Bloody Sunday and then continue on through Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. We’ll meet former marchers, journalists, and activists. We’ll be meeting, as Dr. Simon describes, “the ordinary who accomplished extraordinary things.” Even with the itinerary in hand, I still am not sure what all I’ll be experiencing, but I’m sure it will all be worthwile. In just two weeks, I’ll be able to attach a face and a story to the names Dr. Simon has repeatedly mentioned in our Thursday night class.

As a book worm myself, I’m most excited to meet those whose memoirs we’ve read throughout the semester. Their stories of struggle and triumph are invigorating and well-written. They’re able to recount painful memories with eloquence and charge. For example, on March 8, we’ll be visiting with Rev. Robert Graetz, the author of A White Preacher’s Memoir. Graetz was assigned as pastor to Trinity Lutheran Church in the black community in Montgomery, Alabama. His memoir honestly retells the “brutal and dehumanizing treatment” of blacks and has already left an impact on my classmates and I. I can’t even imagine what it will be like to hear his experiences in person.

I’ve wanted to take part in this trip since I was a freshman, but it wasn’t until I declared my human rights major last spring that I knew for a fact that this is how I would spend my last spring break in college. I don’t think there could be a better way to round off my experience as a political science and human rights student at SMU.

Students on this year’s pilgrimage have every intent of recording events as they take place, so keep an eye out to hear about their emotional, educational and impactful experiences throughout the week.

Click here to learn more about SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage and stay tuned to hear about this year’s pilgrims.

March 2, 2016|News|

SMU experts join KERA for Freedom Summer 50th anniversary film preview & panel discussion Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Freedom Riders Julia Aaron and David Dennis

Julia Aaron, left, and David Dennis participated in a Freedom Ride from from Montgomery, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi in 1961. The Freedom Riders paved the way for Freedom Summer student volunteers. Photo credit: Paul Schutzer via ‘Freedom Riders’ c/o PBS

During the summer of 1964, more than 700 student volunteers joined with thousands of organizers and local African Americans to register new voters in Mississippi.

The violence that followed included the murders of three civil rights workers and the burning of dozens of churches, homes and community centers. Public outrage against these acts helped spur the U.S. Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In honor of Freedom Summer’s 50th anniversary, two SMU experts will join a former student activist and UNT law professor for KERA’s Freedom Summer Community Screening and Panel Discussion.

The screening and discussion take place 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, 2014 in KERA’s Community Room, 3000 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas. Admission is free; advance registration is required by 5:30 p.m. on the day. For details, contact engage@kera.org.

The event – which includes a preview of the June 24 PBS show “Voices of Freedom Summer” – is sponsored by KERA and the Embrey Family Foundation/SMU Embrey Human Rights Program with support from the South Dallas Cultural Center and the Dallas Faces Race think-tank.

“The racist issues civil rights activists confronted, primarily to ensure voting rights, aren’t just in the pages of history. They’re deeply entrenched to this day, but perhaps not as overtly visible,” says SMU Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin, event moderator.

Featured panelists include:

Ernie McMillan, a Dallas native and former member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Student Congress On Racial Equality (SCORE). McMillan was an integral part of Texas-based civil rights demonstrations that, although often successful, led to his imprisonment for more than three years.

Dennis Simon, SMU’s Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor of political science in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and organizer of SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage, now in its 10th year.

Cheryl Brown Wattley, a University of North Texas law professor who spent more than 21 years in private practice, primarily as a criminal defense attorney and civil rights litigator. At UNT she is director of Experiential Education and teach courses in professional skills, criminal law, and professionalism.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story at SMU News

June 16, 2014|Calendar Highlights, News|

Three receive 2013 Distinguished University Citizen Awards

Three faculty members were honored with SMU’s 2013 Distinguished University Citizen Award at the Faculty Breakfast held Saturday, May 18 before Commencement. This year’s recipients are:

  • Robert Kehoe, Physics, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences
  • Dennis Simon, Political Science, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences
  • Paige Ware, Teaching and Learning, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development

The award winners became part of “a strong list of distinguished faculty who have served SMU extraordinarily well and whose examples continue to energize SMU and encourage each of us,” said Associate Provost Harold Stanley in presenting the honors.

The award, given by the Provost’s Office, honors three faculty members each year for service and activities that benefit students and the University’s academic mission.

May 21, 2013|For the Record, News|

Calendar Highlights: Oct. 1, 2012

Brown Bag Returns: The highly anticipated Brown Bag Dance Series returns on Monday, Oct. 1. The Meadows School of Art Division of Dance will perform at lunchtime daily through Friday, Oct. 5. The performances include 10-15 of original ballet, modern and jazz works; giving the SMU community a taste of the different dance styles. Performances are free and in the Bob Hope Theatre Lobby of the Owen Arts Center. Students, Faculty and Staff are encouraged to enjoy their lunch while watching the talented dancers perform.

PwC: The PwC SMU Athletic Forum produces four annual luncheons every year that honor sports legends. On Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, Super Bowl champion and football head coach, Sean Payton will be the featured speaker for the Red Mountain Resources Luncheon. The forum is in its 23rd season of bringing these high achieving individuals to Dallas and forum proceeds are used to support SMU athletic scholarships and operating initiatives. The luncheon will be held at the Hilton Anatole Hotel and begins at noon. Please contact Jeff Lockhart for more information.

McFarlin Auditorium: Every year McFarlin Auditorium hosts several special events. Here’s a look at the month of October:

  • October 3, 2012: The Carrington Endowed Lecture Series presents “India Now” featuring The Honorable S.M. Krishna ’59, Minister of External Affairs for India. The lecture begins at 6 p.m. and registration is free.
  • October 7, 2012: David Byrne and St. Vincent concert at 8 p.m.
  • October 9, 2012: Tate Lecture Series featuring Regis Philbin at 8 p.m.
  • October 17, 2012: Tower Center Medal of Freedom Reception 4:30 p.m.
  • October 22, 2012: Norah Jones Concert at 8 p.m.
  • October 26, 2012: Pigskin Revue performance at 8:15 p.m.
  • October 27, 2012: NPHC Stepshow at 7 p.m.

Basketball in the Big East: SMU Basketball Coach Larry Brown is speaking on SMU Basketball in the New Era, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. Brown boasts an impressive resume; he is the only head coach to win championships in both the NBA and NCAA. Coach Brown will speak on his plans for SMU Basketball in their 2013 season and debut in the Big East Conference. The luncheon is in the Ernst & Young Gallery in the Fincher Building and will begin at noon. Tickets are $12.00 for Faculty Club Members and $15.00 for non-members, and you must RSVP by Sept. 30, 2012.

Presidential Election 2012: SMU is hosting a Presidential Debate Series for SMU and the Dallas Community. The series will feature a viewing of the televised presidential debates, for the fall election, in the O’Donnell Auditorium with a public debate and ballot opportunity afterwards. The SMU debate program will moderate the event. The viewing will start at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3. 2012. The other dates in the series are, Oct. 11, 16, and 22.

(All images courtesy of SMU)

October 1, 2012|Calendar Highlights|
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