Campus Diversity Forum

Uploaded by uwwhitewater on 24.09.2012


On September 27 and 28, UW-Whitewater will be hosting several
civil rights legends as part of the campus diversity forum.
The College of Arts and Communication is this year's host
and Dean Mark McPhail of the college is here to
talk to us about it.
I think it's important for us to paint a picture for everybody.
This is Mississippi in 1964, roughly 100 years after the Civil War;
roughly 100 years after constitutional amendments abolished slavery,
provided due process and equal protection
and gave African Americans the right to vote.
But what was the situation really like in 1964 in Mississippi?
All of those gains, all of those rights were systematically
being denied to the African American citizens of Mississippi.
And in 1960, Robert Moses had gone to Mississippi and created a mock-vote
basically to see if African Americans wanted to vote,
because what Mississippians were saying, white Mississippians were saying
is that black Americans didn't want to vote.
Well, Moses discovered that the mock-vote got tens of thousands of voters,
And so he decided to extend that program by bringing white college students
down to Mississippi to work on voter registration,
to work on the creation of freedom schools
and to work on the development of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
That was freedom summer.
The students that you mentioned, mostly college students,
it's not an over exaggeration to say
that they were literally risking their lives.
Yes. In fact, three of the young men did risk their lives.
James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered in Mississippi,
and it's become known in the movie Mississippi Burning
and several other documentaries.
They had gone down to check out a church that had been burned
and were stopped by the police and disappeared.
And the next day, Bob Moses, who is going to be here,
stood in front of the rest of the volunteers
and said that when civil rights workers disappear in Mississippi,
it most likely means that they're dead.
And even after hearing that, all but a very few,
I mean counted on one hand, volunteers went down to Mississippi,
and they changed America that summer.
This is a world of 7 billion people,
there's a lot of forces for good and evil;
you're talking about money and politics.
It's really hard for a student to feel empowered nowadays.
What do you hope that the civil rights leaders coming here to campus
will showcase students and teach them about empowerment?
Well, often times when we learn about history,
we learn about it from a book.
And this is a chance for our students to learn
from the people who were there.
So it's not abstract history; it's embodied knowledge.
These people lived their lives, went through this period
and the most important thing is they're amazing role models
because they were the same age as many of our students.
They have the power and the authority and the strength
to bring about the changes that are going to make this a better country.
And we will hear about that firsthand on September 27 and 28
at the Campus Diversity Forum.
For more information, you can check out our website, and there's a link right on the home page.
We look forward to seeing you there.