March 17, 2014
The USM LAC Druker Office of Community Engagement recently hosted an interactive workshop about civil rights with Edward Little High School and USM Lewiston-Auburn College students. Entitled, “Bringing it Home: Civil Rights Struggles from Birmingham to Maine”, the workshop was funded through a USM Diversity Mini Grant and highlighted the similarities and differences between civil rights struggles in Lewiston-Auburn, the United States, and globally 50 years ago and presently.
The workshop convened at USM LAC and brought together approximately 50 Edward Little High School students as well as 25 USM LAC students, along with staff from both schools in order to build community among students as well as to explore the ethics and history behind civil rights movements. The event reflected hours of planning and preparation by a group of dedicated Edward Little high school student leaders, Dante Baskett, Cole Butler, Clayton Carver, Sydnee Harris, Salma Mohammed, and Ayuub Sharlot working closely with USM LAC students Tonya Bailey-Curry and Thomas Farrington. These students worked collaboratively with the facilitation of Nicole Manganelli of the Unity Project, E.L. Vice Principal, Leslie Morrill; and USM LAC Associate Professor Michelle Vazquez Jacobus to plan the content and the activities of the Civil Rights Event as well as to lead the event itself.
The highly-interactive day included study of civil rights history, interactive activities, small and large group discussions, a multicultural panel and an action planning session, all of which included high school, college students, USM and Edward Little faculty, and several community members. The Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (which was written 50 years ago) was used as a touchstone for advance study and to launch discussions about the perpetuity and commonality of civil rights struggles. Reading and discussion of the M.L.K. letter were followed by a multicultural panel consisting of Rita Dube, the former Director of the Franco American Heritage Center; Tonya Bailey-Curry, a USM Student Leader; Sadik Lag, a USM LAC graduate and community leader; and Sydnee Harris, an Edward Little High School student leader. Panelists spoke candidly about issues their communities have faced provided ideas to strengthen relations in our communities. The workshop culminated with an action oriented planning session in which participants collaboratively developed action steps to address racism and create safer, more inclusive communities.
USM LAC’s Druker Office of Community Engagement sets a unique standard as a student-faculty collaboratively led office coordinating LAC’s multi-tiered community engagement work.
Pictured are students from Edward Little High School in Auburn and USM LAC students taking part in the “Bringing it Home: Civil Rights Struggles from Birmingham to Maine” workshop, hosted by USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College and organized by the Druker Office of Community Engagement. From left to right: Ayuub Sharlot (EL), Angela Hamel (LAC), Jessica Sinclair (LAC and EL), Sierra-Lynn Frost (EL), Morgan Laferierre (EL), Patrick Garner (EL), Dante Baskett (EL), Allie Flowers (EL), and Riley McCurdy (EL). Standing in back are Renee Morin (LAC) and Pamela Lebourdais (LAC).