Taking an unbeaten path while touring New York City, nine Bainbridge State College Honors Program students and their faculty advisers recently explored how race and racism plays out in that diverse city.
With this year’s theme of “Race and Racism,” Dr. Michael Kirkland, director of the College’s Honors Program and associate professor of history and humanities, and Dr. Patrick Smith, an adviser of the Program and professor of English, have developed programs throughout this academic year exploring the issue. For example, during the fall semester, Daryl Parks, a Tallahassee attorney who represented the family of Trayvon Martin who was killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., was a guest at one of the Program’s meetings.
During their New York City trip, the students had an array of opportunities that included seeing the Broadway play “LBJ All the Way” and hearing about New York City’s controversial “Stop and Frisk” law from a presenter at the ACLU headquarters. They met and heard award-winning poet, playwright, teacher and activist Jesus Papoleto Melendez, a Nuyorican poet who read some of his poetry about growing up Puerto Rican in New York City’s El Barrio.
They also toured the Statue of Library, the Empire State Building and attended amateur night at the famous Apollo Theater.
Elizabeth Stewart of Miller County said the tour was fascinating because of New York City’s diversity and how it compares to Southwest Georgia.
“The people and the mixed cultures were interesting and different from anything we would ever see in our corner of Georgia,” Stewart said. “New York left us richer, I believe, than we were when we stepped foot into the city. Race is simply a color of skin. Although there are differences in lifestyles, we should respect one another – as we would want to be respected.”
Along with Stewart, the other Honors Program students participating in the trip were Julie Darley, Erin Kirkus, Alex Long, Edward Comerford and Emma Sainbayar, all from Bainbridge; Leah Hollingsworth and Alea Simmons, both from Cairo; and, Jonathan North from Iron City.