Dallas College tours civil rights sites

Jayline Quintana, Contributing Writer

Nearly 100 Dallas College students traveled to historical civil right movement landmarks March 23-26 across Mississippi and Alabama.

Students accompanied by Dallas College faculty, a licensed counselor and a nurse visited sites such as the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Legacy Museum, National Voting Rights Museum and Institution, and Foot Soldiers Bridge.

This year the excursion was preceded by the Civil Rights Speaker series at North Lake Campus. The series featured presentations by North Lake faculty on topics such as Martin Luther King Jr. and the women of the civil rights movement, as well as a documentary centered on last year’s trip presented by Sharie Vance, a video technology professor at North Lake Campus.

On the first day, students heard from Jerry Mitchell, a journalist famous for his work with cold cases from the civil rights era and getting authorities to reopen them.

Roy Vu, a history professor at North Lake Campus, said, “It was just an honor and a privilege to have Mr. Jerry Mitchell, an award-winning journalist, to speak with our students on the very first day of our trip.”

Students visited the 16th Street Baptist Church, where they learned more about the church bombing, as well as a Black boy killed by police officers that day.

I feel like it is paramount that trips like this are done with the college because it is history that is not told in the traditional classroom.

— Rory Etienne, North Lake Campus SGA President

Xavier Chancellor, a Mountain View Campus student, said, “It just stuck with me because it is something that we face today as African American men and minority males in general.”

Chancellor, who has now attended the trip twice, said visiting Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where students learned more about King’s life was another key moment of the trip for him.

After the exhibits, students participated in small group discussions led by faculty.

“We broke out into small group discussions, and each adviser was assigned to four to six students,” Vu said. “It was quite powerful and insightful to see, a lot of tears were shed but it was beautiful.”

Rory Etienne, North Lake Campus SGA president, said: “I feel like it is paramount that trips like this are done with the college because it is history that is not told in the traditional classroom. There is just not enough time in a traditional classroom to cover these topics.”

Moore said he hopes to expand the trip in the future. He said: “Our hope is that we no longer have waiting lists. That we are able to have anyone that is interested from Dallas College to attend and then have this great educational experience.”

Vu said he feels the same way. “Unfortunately, a lot of history has been ignored, erased, neglected and just forgotten,” Vu said. “So as a historian, it is important to make sure those stories are told and heard and therefore shared.”

The first trip was offered during the Spring 2019 semester.

Although it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trip was officially brought back in 2022.

Vu and Shanee’ Moore, senior director of college administration at Dallas College, helped plan this year’s trip.

Previous guest speakers have included individuals such as Dale H. Long, a survivor of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, an attack by the Ku Klux Klan that killed four Black girls.