Check out our recent events and keep an eye out for future workshops!
Academic Outreach Endowment Grant Roundtable
View the Recording
Join this conversation with Shawna Shapiro, Associate Professor of Writing & Rhetoric/Linguistics, and Dima Ayoub, C.V. Starr Fellow in International Studies and Assistant Professor, Department of Arabic, about their recent community engaged course partnerships with immigrant and New American community members in Chittenden County with partners including the Somali Bantu Association and the Burlington School District. This event will be a reflective conversation with colleagues about ethics, approaches, and logistics specific to work with New Americans.
2022 Winter Term Workshops: Socially Just Community Engagement
Understanding Power and Privilege
This workshop is focused on understanding systems of oppression, and the role that privilege & power play in community engagement.
Dr. Hector Vila, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
Jacqueline Qiu ‘21, French and Political Science majors, Privilege & Poverty student staff
Anna Freund, Food Program Assistant at HOPE
Social Identities and Intersectionality
Reflect on your own social identities & how your intersecting identities affect the ways in which you build meaningful relationships with community.
Crystal Jones, Assistant Director of Education for Equity and Inclusion
Rostyk Yarovyk, CCL student and CCE student staff
Priya Sudhakaran, CCL student
Ethical, Strengths-Based Community Engagement
This workshop is focused on understanding how community & individual strengths can be leveraged to enact social change and strengthen communities.
Diane Munroe, Assistant Director for Community-Based Learning
Gabriella Chalker ‘24, CCL student and CCL Project Assistant
Pam Berenbaum, Director of the Global Health Program
Rae Donovan, Social-Emotional Learning Coordinator, Mt. Abe Unified School District
2022 Living Legacy Week
To honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Center for Community Engagement, in collaboration with the Anderson Freeman Center and the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life, is leading the Living Legacy program. Reflective readings, videos, and discussions will be provided asynchronously, paired with direct action in the community throughout the week.
Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to join the conversation!
Throughout the week of January 17, 2022, the Middlebury community is invited to reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through asynchronous activities. All materials will be provided in accessible formats.
Reflective resources and discussion focusing on white complacency.
Readings include Dr. King’s 1967 American Psychological Association address and Brave Little State’s “Why Is Vermont So Overwhelmingly White?”
Reflective resources and discussion focusing on mass incarceration and the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
Materials include “Hard Lessons, Hard Times: The School-to-Prison Pipeline,” “A Word: From Schoolyards to Prisonyards,” 13th, “How and Why Black Male Incarceration Is Undermining Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Last Wish.’”
Reflective resources and discussion focusing on King’s thoughts on economic systems of oppression.
Readings include “The Uncompromising Anti-Capitalism of Martin Luther King Jr.” and “King on Capitalism: The Uncomfortable MLK.”
Reflective resources and discussion provided by the Scott Center.
Readings include “A Moral Policy Agenda to Heal and Transform America: The Poor People’s Jubilee Platform”, Rev. Barber’s Repairers of the Breach site, and On Being’s “Rev. Otis Moss III
The Sound of the Genuine: Traversing 2020 with ‘the Mystic of the Movement’ Howard Thurman”
- In his discussions of wealth inequality, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for “the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.” What are some ways that individuals can work towards this goal? What are some systemic or institutional ways that we as a society can move closer to this goal? What are the implications of this work for our democracy?
- Though mass incarceration, educational inequality, or the prison industrial complex are large-scale societal concerns, there are ways in which individuals can implement change in their circles of influence. What are some ways that you think you could take action to support individuals impacted by the criminal justice system? In what ways can the voices of those impacted by the criminal justice system be better represented in our policy-making process?
- Consider the following excerpt from the Keith Reeves podcast.
“Black males number 18 million in the general population, some 840,000 of them are incarcerated and the Justice Department predicts and the projections show that the chances of a Black boy serving time has nearly tripled in three decades. Black males comprise approximately 50% of the adult male prison population and are 10 times more likely to be incarcerated than any other group in the population.”
What do you think are the long-term socioeconomic, social, academic, and personal implications of the targeted mass incarceration of Black americans?
- In his 1967 address to the American Psychological Association, Dr. King notes that “White America has an appalling lack of knowledge concerning the reality of Negro life”. This may be especially true in Vermont, which the U.S Census Bureau estimates is 94.2% white. What are some ways that Middlebury residents can make authentic efforts to learn more about systemic racism within Middlebury and Vermont? What are some ideas for putting that learning into practice within our local system of governance?
- Though they may not be immediately apparent to white residents, there are often messages communicated about what it means to be a Vermonter or who belongs in Vermont, which is noted in the following excerpt from VPR.
“White faces, and white snow … white steeples on churches and the so-called white New England village are all kind of packaged together in a way that’s made to kind of look and feel kind of natural in a particular way,” he says, “even that was clearly not kind of anything natural, it was very much a cultural construction.” So beyond economic forces and immigration streams, what we’ve had in this state is this long-term messaging about what Vermont looks like, and who Vermonters are.”
How can individuals work to change these exclusionary ideas and create more inclusive communities?
- Consider Vermont’s tradition of participatory democracy through the lens of the prior questions. What are the implications of these questions for democratic engagement in Vermont’s local governing structures? What are some ways that we might address structural racism in our local democratic traditions?
- What is the power, if any, of Rev. Dr. William Barber’s coalition speaking from a moral and religious/spiritual perspective? What are its advantages and disadvantages?
- If you look at Part I of the Poor People’s Jubliee Platform, after the preamble and the principles, you will see that the first item is “to protect and expand the right to vote.” Why do you think voting rights are the first thing listed?
- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was himself a pastor, yet in the On Being podcast with Rev. Otis Moss III he emphasizes that Rev. Howard Thurman was everybody’s pastor—the pastor to the civil rights movement. Why do you think a movement and its leaders might need a pastor? How do the spiritual perspectives that Thurman and Moss offer contribute to the work of social change?
Middlebury College faculty, staff, and students are invited to continue the discussion on our moderated Canvas page.
2021 Liberal Arts and the Public Good
Liberal Arts and the Public Good: Community Engagement Spring Series
Through immersive learning within and outside of the classroom, Middlebury students and faculty work to contribute to local and global communities. This event series will feature stories from and conversations with Middlebury College undergraduates and faculty members who have unique perspectives on engaging in community during the pandemic.
Global Community Engagement during COVID
Three current students will share how they are engaged in experiential learning across cultural and geographic boundaries through course projects, volunteer service, and student-led co-curricular activities. Alex will share her experience leading a virtual MAlt trip on immigration in partnership with RAICES, Patrick will share his virtual and in-person hybrid project with a high schoolers in Kenya, and Mai will share her experience partnering Middlebury College School students with a school in Nepal.
Moderator: Christina Brook ’18
Panelists: Patrick K. Wachira ’23; Mai Thuong ’22; Alex Burns ’21.5
Watch the panel video here.
Student Perspectives On Building Community Across Distance
This event features four students engaging in projects that cultivate a sense of place and full participation in their communities. From facilitating virtual cooking classes for Addison County youth to working to get-out-the-vote during the lead up to the 2020 elections, these students have creatively found ways to make a positive impact in their communities this year.
Moderator: Kira Waldman ’20
Panelists: Jordan Saint-Louis ’24; Izzy Hartnett ’21.5; Mollie Ockene ’21; Kenzo Okazaki ’21
Watch the panel video here.
Public Scholarship at Middlebury: Community Connections within the Academic Curriculum
Faculty and student leaders discuss the power of community-connected learning in areas like the Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster’s internships and capstone experiences, and in an online course unpacking historic artistic representations of slavery for a modern audience.
Moderator: Ashley Laux ’06
Panelists: Héctor Vila, Associate Professor of Writing & Rhetoric; Isabella Cady ’22.5; Sanae Eda, Associate Professor and Director of the School in Japan
Watch the video here.
2021 Winter Term Workshop: Freedom Riders
This winter term, join the Center for Community Engagement’s AmeriCorps MLK Day of Service documentary discussion on Freedom Riders by Stanley Nelson.
Freedom Riders Documentary Discussion
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and CCE’s participation in AmeriCorps’ MLK Day of Service, the Center for Community Engagement invites you to participate in our discussion of the documentary Freedom Riders by Stanley Nelson. Our aim is to hold a deep conversation focusing on the Freedom Riders’ purpose, the democracy in action, and its larger connection to the civil rights movement as well as our current moments.
This discussion will be open to the public. The documentary is accessible to Middlebury students, staff, and faculty on Kanopy here. Alums, family members, community members, and others interested in watching the documentary can freely access it on PBS here.
Please watch the documentary prior to the evening discussion and at your convenience, although we suggest you watch it 1-2 days before our discussion on Feb 10th.
Register in advance for the Freedom Riders Documentary Discussion on February 10, 2021 from 7-8:30 pm EST via ZOOM
Documentary Discussion Questions:
-Why do you think CORE wanted the Freedom Riders who were selected to be a diverse group? What is the importance behind who makes up the movement?
-There is a scene in which John Seigenthaler shares about growing up with black women workers and reflects by saying - “they were invisible women, I can’t believe I didn’t see them, we were blind to the reality of racism and change”— with this silent and untold presence of black women, how do you think race is taught or how we learn about race?
-Defenders of segregation justify by saying — “everyone knows to keep the blacks and whites separate and it would be better if they kept to themselves” — how do you think those who believe this and their ideas on race shaped the community? How do we see that today?
-Reflect on the role of the media — How did it impact people’s ideas about the country, both within the country and abroad?
-There is injustice in all aspects of life, why do you think CORE focused on buses?
-Songs and the act of singing play an enormous role in the struggle - how does that keep the movement alive? (buses are coming, we are going on the highway, etc)
-What is the story usually taught about the Kennedys? How does it contrast to the dangerous indifference depicted in the film? Why is JFK’s reputation in regard to civil rights normally represented in a positive light?
-What misconceptions did you have about the Freedom Riders going into the documentary?
-How did it feel as a College student to watch a story about College students who dropped out of school to risk their lives as full-time activists? How did your feelings change as the story progressed to include over 400 young freedom riders?
-What did you think about the inclusion of Alabama Gov. John Patterson as an interview subject? Why would the filmmakers not have pressed him to answer more difficult questions? His role in the story is very much that of the villain — What impact does it have to interview a “villain” and not ask the hard questions? What would you want to ask him?
-Where do you see tension within the activists? What does that tell you about the movement?
-The fable of the civil rights movement is that it was all based in the South, white activists/advocates were “saviors,” the movement was unified, and there were only a few key figures. How does the film contribute to this myth? How does it dispel it? What is the benefit of relying on tropes in telling the story of the freedom riders? What is the harm?
-What similarities do you see in the police’s actions towards the freedom riders and police’s actions towards BLM activists today? What scenes from the film/contemporary incidents stand out to you? Why, in spite of years of police brutality and indifference, would many white people find violent police behavior “surprising”?
-In what ways does the film perpetuate white savior ideology? Why is this problematic?
-Why were many white people, such as John Seigenthaler, surprised by the activists’ perseverance in the face of violence?
-In what ways do white allies act as barriers between black people and harm? How does their role contribute to the larger movement?
2021 CCE Book Club: Racial Justice, Civic Engagement, and Misrepresentations of History
The Center for Community Engagement’s AmeriCorps’ MLK Day of Service book club on A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History took place during Winter Term 2021.
CCE AmeriCorps VISTAs Jilly dos Santos and Tenzin Dorjee held a 4-week-long, fully-funded book club on A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History as part of the Center for Community Engagement’s participation in AmeriCorps’ MLK Day of Service.
We chose this book because it focuses on the dangerous distortions of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s and other civil rights leaders’ legacies and it provides a framework for understanding the complex history of racial justice in America. Our goal is to hold thoughtful discussions so that participants can more critically engage in anti-racist community engagement. We want participants to ask themselves, what really was MLK’s philosophy on civic engagement? How do my efforts (to be anti-racist, to promote fair housing, to fight against wage inequality, etc) support that philosophy or contradict it? What can I do with this information?
We met over Zoom every Thursday from January 19-February 19, 2021 to discuss these questions and more throughout Winter Term! Participants received each week’s topic and discussion questions in advance of each meeting. This winter term workshop was possible thanks to support from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Anderson Freeman Resource Center and the Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life.
Book Club Questions
Week 1 - Preface and Introduction: A Misleading Redemption Fable
-What “fables” about the civil rights movement were you taught growing up?
-Do these commemorations and tributes bring justice? Does it help or harm the purpose?
-How do these celebrations/commemoration makes ordinary citizens feel good about the country and themselves?
-Why does virtually every institution/person feel the need to celebrate/commemorate MLK Day?
-In what ways does the United States flatter itself with this national fable?
-How do we continue to prescribe racism through this national fable?
-Why does the author differentiate between the usage of “the civil rights era” versus “the Black freedom struggle”?
-What purpose does the “split-screen” serve politicians/white society?
-In what ways does focusing the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century on a handful of “heroes and heroines” harm the Black freedom struggle today?
-How does the deflection of blame (with education, motivation, values) onto black families harm them even more?
Week 2 - Chapters 1-3: Erasure of Activism: Northern Struggle and the Polite Racism of White Moderates
-What are your main takeaways from this section? What happened?
-How does polite racism/moderate white racism manifest itself at Middlebury?
-Why do white people struggle to/refuse to identify this type of racism? Why do they struggle to/refuse to shut it down?
-Racial injustice is supported through actions and inactions. How does inaction silence the issue? Why, how, and for whom, are these silences designed to be comfortable?
-Fables rely on tropes. What trope does the South fill? Why does White Supremacy need the South to remain this 2-dimensional stereotype? With the movement largely focused in the south, how does the South & North feed into the narrative in order to promote themselves and the country’s identity?
-Why do you think the long history of activism in Detroit and Los Angeles doesn’t live within the fable of the civil rights movement?
-What is the concept of “the carceral state?” How does it play into the Detroit riots and aftermath? (p.77-79 for reference. Theoharis does not name the concept, but you can search it up)
-How does the idea of “the mean/redneck/evil racist” prevent a full understanding of how racism operates on an interpersonal and structural level throughout the United States?
-In what ways is the role of language and words used dusting racial issues under the rug?
-The book states racism is often personified as being violent, aggressive, and in the “barbaric South and by doing so we easily let go of offenders of polite racism. In what ways have you seen polite racism?
Week 3 - Chapter 5-7: Who and What Made Up the Movement? Black Women, Youth and Progressive Ideas
-What was the Poor People’s Campaign?
-How did civil rights era activists see structural change necessary to achieving racial equity? (ex: criminal justice reform, housing, labor reform)
-How does the erasure of specific policy recommendations of Civil Rights Era activists affect the Black Lives Matter Movement today?
-How does early indoctrination of the fable affect young people’s ability to engage with anti-racist action?
-In what ways was the movement conscious of their image (or: the fable) and how did that affect whose stories they were elevating?
-Before Rosa Parks there was Claudette Colvin - why has her story been lost to history?
-How did Coretta Scott King’s goals and accomplishments differ from, and influence Martin Luther Kings’? Why have they been obscured?
-How is the work of Black women sidelined and co-opted by the movement?
-What is the difference between recognizing and idolizing people for their work?
-Is criticizing the movement, or elements of the movement, inherently damaging to the Black Freedom Struggle, or necessary?
Week 4 - Chapter 4, 8-9, Afterword: Media and Government: (Mis)representation and Repression
-Why did white media misrepresent activists and movements during the civil rights movement? How has the media’s representation of black activists evolved?
-How is passive voice employed in media, textbooks, and other literature to reinforce the Civil Rights Movement fable?
-What does it say about the US government’s priorities that the FBI saw the Civil Rights Movement as a threat? How do we see those same priorities expressed by the government today?
-What would it take for the U.S. government to recognize Black Freedom movements as legitimate?
-Wrapping up the Book
-What was Theoharis’ goal in writing this book? Did she achieve it? What work is there still, to advance that goal?
-What did you learn from this book? What are your main takeaways?
-How should history about the Black Freedom Struggle be taught? What are the barriers to changing how it is taught?
-What are some common ways MLK Day is celebrated, and how do they participate in the misrepresentation of civil rights history?
-What are some ways a historically and philosophically accurate MLK Day could be celebrated?
-If you were talking to someone who was misrepresenting civil rights history, what would you say to them?