Home Health & Education Belmont and Fisk Universities announce social justice collaborative

Belmont and Fisk Universities announce social justice collaborative

by PRIDE Newsdesk
(l-r) Joyce Espy Searcy, Dr. Susan West, and Dr. Robert Carr

Belmont University and Fisk University are forming a partnership between the universities designed to cultivate champions for social justice through exposure to civil rights and social justice movements throughout Middle Tennessee. The Fisk-Belmont Social Justice Collaborative is funded by the Rechter Family Foundation and was created to educate students and amplify the power of their leadership with joint projects and exposure over a five-year period.

The fostering and advancement of social justice through this partnership directly supports both Belmont’s and Fisk’s strategic trajectories.

“Our commitment to reweaving the social fabric through hope and inclusive excellence begins with a thorough and thoughtful examination of the past, reflecting on areas where imbalance and inequality have persisted,” said Dr. Susan West, executive vice president for administration, chief of staff and chair of Belmont’s Diversity Council.

Fisk University Provost Dr. Robert Carr, said: “Fisk University students were in the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. This collaboration aligns perfectly with Fisk’s Strategic Plan to provide student experiences both inside and outside the classroom that will transform the students and society.”

Belmont University Journalism Professor Dr. Sybril Brown and Fisk University Associate Professor and Chair of Behavioral Sciences Dr. Rolande Dathis have created a new course where students will create various projects including an e-book, commemorative website, video vignettes and a pop-up museum digital experience. There are 25 students enrolled in the respective courses.

Fisk’s Associate Professor of Social Justice Dr. Ricardo Guthrie and Belmont’s Dr. Bernard Turner, associate professor and director of Belmont Social Justice Entrepreneurship, will take students to Black Mountain, N.C. for the Ignite Retreat, an immersive experience designed to teach students how to create change in their communities and tour Mobile, Alabama civil rights museums.

Dr. Dennis Chen, Belmont associate dean and associate professor of Management and International Business will also co-lead the Belmont-Fisk Spring 2023 Hackathon in partnership with Fisk John Lewis Center for Social Justice Tech/Data Science Fellow Lena Winfree.

Students will visit each campus, local museums and libraries, and interview social justice advocates across decades. A speaker series includes Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, co- founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and part of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s inner circle.

Charged with developing the idea for the collaborative, Joyce Espy Searcy, director of Community Relations at Belmont University and a Fisk University graduate said: “This project is an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff at both Fisk and Belmont to learn more about past struggles and advances in social justice and learn the tremendous resources available all around them to carry the torch forward for human rights.”

The official launch of the partnership will be celebrated at a co-organized reception on Feb.

9 from 3-6 pm in the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library. Tours of the Civil Rights Room and the Women’s Voting Rights Exhibit will begin at 3 pm, with a program to follow at 4:30 pm. All are invited to attend.

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