EMU political science professor talks about discrimination and finding your ‘dash’

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The civil rights movement is long gone, but economic, political and social disparities still exist. Dr. Barbara Patrick, professor of political science at Eastern Michigan University, gave a presentation on September 24 to explain how racial segregation and discrimination are challenged by the millennial generation.

Patrick began by talking about her upbringing and the hardships she endured growing up. Born in Delta, she grew up facing poverty. She explained that sometimes she did not have all the school supplies she needed for school; wearing shoes with holes, not being able to afford socks in the winter, and going home without electricity was quite common.

From the age of six, Patrick said she wanted to make it her mission to be able to change lives. She shared with the audience an experience she learned from a Sunday School teacher while attending church.

“We all have a start date, we all have an end date and we all have a dash,” said Patrick. “This dash represents your life.”

Patrick said she took this quote and used it to educate people. During the discussion, she spoke about a time she visited her sister in Mississippi and her sister informed her of a nine-year-old boy in the neighborhood who was repeating first grade for the third time. She later found out that the boy had been bullied in school for not having the things he needed, just like she hadn’t done when she was a child. Patrick knew she wanted to help him and decided to take him shopping.

Patrick later found out after bringing the boy home that he had four siblings. They lived in a single trailer with no electricity or running water. Patrick wanted to continue helping the boy at school. It was his “dash”.

Patrick then spoke about three civil rights activists who did something amazing with their dash. One of them being James Meredith, who became the first African American to attend the University of Mississippi in 1962.

College made it difficult for Meredith to enroll in school and tried everything they could not to accept. Meredith then took legal action against the University for discrimination. He lost the case in state courts, but the case went to the Supreme Court which ruled in his favor.

Patrick said President John F. Kennedy sent three thousand American marshals to escort Meredith to college because riots broke out to try to prevent her from enrolling in class. He was eventually allowed to enroll in school. However, was followed by continued intimidation and harassment.

“What did James Meredith decide to do with his dashboard?” Patrick asked the crowd, “Meredith chose to use her dash to say that the citizens of this country should have access to the higher education institution of their choice and cannot be turned down based on your appearance. or your origin. “

Despite the hardships, Meredith graduated from the University of Mississippi in political science in 1963 and went on to earn a master’s degree in economics from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and a law degree from Columbia.
University in 1968.

After the presentation, the floor was given to the students to ask questions. One student asked, “In what ways can EMU students get involved on campus or in our communities to help those facing issues of lack of food, shelter and supplies? ”

Patrick recommended getting involved with some of the organizations at Eastern Michigan University that help less fortunate people or socialize with people who may not be like you. Just starting a conversation could give them all the help they need.



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