Last week, four departments and 35 students previewed the movie “Detroit” and attended a field trip to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.
The goal of the event was to not only create meaningful discussion of the importance of African American heritage on campus, but to also highlight important historical events through both visual and hands-on experiences.
Valley Nights, The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Office of Diversity Programs and the School/University Partnership Office came together to make the program possible for both students and faculty.
The Student Life Center hosted a showing of “Detroit” on Thursday, Oct. 19. The fact-based film takes place in the summer of 1967, when rioting and civil unrest started to tear apart the city of Detroit. The movie is based on the Algiers Motel incident, where three unarmed men were gunned down and others were brutally beaten.
Following the showing, history professor Kenneth Jolly led a discussion on the historical significance of the event. Jolly not only informed students of what happened, but dialogue was also encouraged between those who attended the movie.
“The discussion that followed the movie was powerful, emotional, and authentic,” said Roberto Garcia, the director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services. “Students were able to share their emotions and responses to the movie, which led to a meaningful discussion.”
Students and faculty left for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Friday, Oct. 20, at 9 a.m. and returned at 4 p.m. A tour guide showed students the museum while also explaining the rich history of the different pieces. Students spent the majority of their time in the “Say it Loud” exhibit, which includes a conglomerate of pieces including artifacts, contemporary art and historical pictures.
“While in the museum, I experienced art that expressed different perspectives on events of the riot in 1967,” said Jerry Harris, a political science major with minors in philosophy and black studies, who attended both events. “Our tour guide’s retelling of the history before the riot and his knowledge on the events enriched the experience.”
Throughout the exhibit, the group had the opportunity to learn about the rich African American culture and history of Detroit through hands-on experiences. Stories were told through the displays, which reiterated the stark reality of the movie that is often lost in Hollywood depictions.
Following their time at the museum, students were taken to the world-famous American and Lafayette Coney Island diners. A trip by the newly built Little Caesars Arena was in store as well. Numerous students were from Detroit and were able to share their personal experiences with others.
“My favorite part of the trip was riding through the city,” Harris said. “Being a native of the city, there’s always that ‘no place like home’ feeling you get when you return.”