Civil Rights Then and Now: New Website Expands on Freedom Summer

On Tuesday, February 3, the Colgate community became aware of the new “Civil Rights: Then and Now” Initiative, a website featuring upcoming campus events that highlight civil rights issues. As seen in Provost and Dean of the Faculty Douglas Hicks’ email to campus, the initiative was sparked by last summer’s first-year reading of Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy, by Bruce Watson. Spearheaded by Professor of Sociology Rhonda F. Levine, the website allows students to add the listed events to their own Google Calendars, helping to increase students’ knowledge and involvement of events on campus.     

“I, along with other faculty and administrators, thought it a great idea to use the summer reading of the Class of 2018 as a springboard to bring together, in one place, events and programs that were related to civil rights and that were happening throughout the year. Sometimes there are so many activities, events and lectures, we can get overwhelmed and maybe delete an e-mail and miss out on something we would have liked to have attended,” Levine said.        

For students who have not read Freedom Summer, the book discusses the events of the summer of 1964 in Mississippi, highlighting the campaign that attempted to register African American voters in the state. The book sparked discussion throughout the country as well as on Colgate’s campus, allowing for better conversation regarding civil rights and modern-day

social justice protests.        

Not only does this website aim to educate students and faculty about events around campus, but it also attempts to function as a connection between the civil rights movements of the past and present, allowing for a better understanding of twentieth century history as well as current events.       

“The goal of this website is to be a space that holds information about all of the events on campus relating to the book, the Civil Rights Movement and social justice movements,” Levine said.        

While Levine was a major proponent of the initiative, the “Civil Rights: Then and Now” website was a collective effort produced by University Studies, the Sociology and Anthropology (SOAN) department and sophomore Dayna Campbell, who designed the website and

updates it regularly.

“Essentially I run the site day to day making sure that the homepage has the week’s featured event and that the calendar is always updated. I outreach to group and group leaders, faculty and departments to make sure that I am informed about all events that are relevant to Civil Rights and social issues…I think that this is a great resource for members of the Colgate community who don’t necessarily use Campus Distribution[s],” Campbell said.

“Dayna has been doing an amazing job. The website has actually been up and running since last semester thanks to Dayna,” Levine said.       

Following Hicks’ email that alerted the community of this new initiative, students and faculty now have the opportunity to use the website themselves and also add their own events to the calendar.       

“I think this website could be really successful in increasing attendance if a large number of Colgate students start to use it regularly. Along with posters being hung around campus, the website will hopefully be able to spread the word about these civil rights events and make a difference,” sophomore Savannah Donohue said.