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Display highlights the civil rights movement

Braden DenHerder, Staff Reporter - February 6, 2013

Taking a step into the past to learn something can be one of the most important things a person can do. The Center for Diversity and Social Justice is hosting the third-annual civil rights display, titled “Bearing Witness,” for this purpose.

“We feel [it] is an important theme because there is so much history that is forgotten, and we don’t want to forget,” said Leah Shelton, diversity officer at the CDSJ.

The civil rights display will be set up so students can walk through and see the important events, people and changes that took place during the civil rights movement. Michael McGarity, junior psychology major, is an event programmer for the CDSJ, and is very passionate about the movement.

“Basically the civil rights display, to me, is showing students what happened in the past, and empowering them to know what one person does can affect everybody else’s future,” McGarity said.

In 2011, the inaugural “CWU Freedom Ride” took place and 14 students were able to travel to the American South and immerse themselves in the history of the civil rights movement.

“They really were able to bear witness in that way and to walk in the footsteps of the civil rights movement and the Freedom Riders,” Shelton said. “This is where the idea for a civil rights display during Black History Month came from. The CDSJ wanted to make sure that this important time in America’s history was brought to the attention of more students.”

This year, the CDSJ will be adding more information about how the civil rights movement has affected other movements such as the LGBTQ and Native American movements.

“We certainly want to pay tribute and bear witness to the civil rights movement and also beyond that, what it has inspired and motivated since then, and how there is still movement and action that needs to happen,” Shelton said.

In addition to the display, the CDSJ will be showing the movie “Brother Outsider,” a film commemorating Bayard Rustin, a leader during the civil rights movement.

“He was basically the father of the civil rights movement, and the only reason why he was not in the limelight is because he was openly gay,” McGarity said.

The CDSJ hopes Central students will take the time to look through the display and educate themselves about the history of the civil rights movement.

“I want them to take away the fact that all of this happened and see all of the impact,” said Octavio Garcia-Ruiz, junior political science and Spanish major.
The civil rights display will be set up in SURC 137 A and B and will be open all day Feb. 4 – 6.

“Walk through, take your time and experience it for yourself,” Shelton said. “Take some time this week to step back and ‘bear witness’ to the important events and leaders during the civil rights movement.”

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