Eastern Michigan University students learned the roles of women in the civil rights movement as part of the “Intersections” series at the Student Center on Jan 29.
Women’s Resource Center’s Intersections speaker series explores different identities and looks at how they relate to each other. This event was organized by Senior Simone Dixon, who is an event coordinator for the WRC.
Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Murphy, assistant professor of history, lectured to a group of 12 students on notable African-American women in the movement such as Rosa Parks, Ella Baker and Daisy Bates. Murphy presented a PowerPoint and showed a clip from the 1987-1990 documentary “Eyes on the Prize.”
Murphy said that this is one of her favorite topics to discuss in her classes.
“I want them to see that the civil rights movement is an ongoing process. I want them to see women’s leadership strategies for inspiration of present struggle,” Murphy said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to learn about a subject not directly related to courses. You can meet professors you might want to take classes with.”
Topics also covered were the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Selma march and the Freedom Singers of Albany, Ga. The lecture focused on women that are rarely or not at all discussed in history books and American history. Most women discussed were instrumental figures in major civil rights events as event organizers or heading fundraisers.
A significant story covered was the story of Claudette Colvin. 16 years old at the time of the movement, she was the first person to get arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man before Rosa Parks. Her pregnancy prevented her from becoming the face of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
“I learned a lot, I was interested in learning it from the female perspective. I learned that the civil rights movement was facilitated by women,” Junior Victoria McCormick, a ROTC student said. “It is definitely eye-opening, a good way to learn outside of the classroom. You get free education and credit.”